Do Brands Influence Obese Kids Intake?

Articles
July 23, 2009

Do Brands Influence Obese Kids Intake?

Oooooh… Oreos, tasty Trix, and cool Captain Crunch. Who can resist the temptation of America’s favorite food brands? Well, a pilot study published in the August 2009 issue of the journal Appetite, revealed that obese children certainly can not resist, and in fact consume approximately 40 more calories when given these heavily advertised branded foods. The study, funded by grants from both the National Institute of Health and the New York Obesity Research Center, hypothesized that overweight children are more receptive to food branding and its effects on intake than normal weight children. Forty-three four to six year-old children from various ethnic backgrounds participated in the study; 23 were considered normal weight, and 20 were overweight according to standard BMI measurements for children. The study included four dinners measuring intake of meals consisting of foods in their original packaging (branded) or identical foods that had been repackaged (unbranded). (It is important to understand that the children were given identical meals on each visit; food in original packaging vs. same food repackaged.) Results demonstrated that overweight children ate about 40 more calories when presented with popular branded foods as compared with consumption during non-branded meals. In general, overweight children consumed significantly more calories per meal than non-overweight children. Another interesting finding was that girls ate about 40 calories less of the branded food than boys who ate about 45 more calories. Researchers also assessed food brand awareness by testing participants’ abilities to match food brand logos with foods and perform simple recall exercises. The children’s brand awareness was found to be independent of their home eating environment, thus signaling researchers to believe that brand-awareness is learned elsewhere. Brand awareness was also found to be positively associated with age.

Oooooh… Oreos, tasty Trix, and cool Captain Crunch. Who can resist the temptation of America’s favorite food brands? Well, a pilot study published in the August 2009 issue of the journal Appetite, revealed that obese children certainly can not resist, and in fact consume approximately 40 more calories when given these heavily advertised branded foods. The study, funded by grants from both the National Institute of Health and the New York Obesity Research Center, hypothesized that overweight children are more receptive to food branding and its effects on intake than normal weight children.

Forty-three four to six year-old children from various ethnic backgrounds participated in the study; 23 were considered normal weight, and 20 were overweight according to standard BMI measurements for children. The study included four dinners measuring intake of meals consisting of foods in their original packaging (branded) or identical foods that had been repackaged (unbranded). (It is important to understand that the children were given identical meals on each visit; food in original packaging vs. same food repackaged.)

Results demonstrated that overweight children ate about 40 more calories when presented with popular branded foods as compared with consumption during non-branded meals. In general, overweight children consumed significantly more calories per meal than non-overweight children. Another interesting finding was that girls ate about 40 calories less of the branded food than boys who ate about 45 more calories.

Researchers also assessed food brand awareness by testing participants’ abilities to match food brand logos with foods and perform simple recall exercises. The children’s brand awareness was found to be independent of their home eating environment, thus signaling researchers to believe that brand-awareness is learned elsewhere. Brand awareness was also found to be positively associated with age.

The expected trend was that children independent of weight would consume more during the branded meals, which did not in fact prove true; what did, shocked the researchers. They did not expect to see such a large variation in response to branded foods between overweight and normal weight children. Independent voluntary initiatives currently adopted by some popular brands including ConAgra, General Mills, Kellogg and Kraft, among others, limit marketing unhealthy foods to children and focus on promoting active and healthy lifestyles. This is something that needs to be universally adopted by all food manufactures. Brands MUST feel an allegiance to their customers to provide nutritious and delicious meals, and most importantly to limit marketing unhealthy items to children. Considering the current prevalence data of overweight and obesity in America, specifically 31.5% of adolescents are considered overweight or obese, it seems almost immoral to continue to market unhealthy foods to children.

Topline: Reformulate and follow the brands that are thinking holistically about lifestyle, taste, nutrition, value and doing the right thing!