Marketing foods to children through product packaging: prolific, unhealthy and misleading

Kaye Mehta, Clare Phillips, Paul Ward, John Coveney, Elizabeth Handsley, Patricia Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


To investigate marketing techniques used on the packaging of child-oriented products sold through supermarkets. Food and beverage products which met criteria for 'marketed to children' were recorded as child-oriented. The products were analysed for food categories, nutritional value, and type and extent of marketing techniques used. A major supermarket chain in Adelaide, South Australia. Child-oriented food and beverage products. One hundred and fifty-seven discrete products were marketed to children via product packaging; most (75·2 %) represented non-core foods, being high in fat or sugar. Many marketing techniques (more than sixteen unique marketing techniques) were used to promote child-oriented food products. Claims about health and nutrition were found on 55·5 % of non-core foods. A median of 6·43 marketing techniques per product was found. The high volume and power of marketing non-core foods to children via product packaging in supermarkets should be of concern to policy makers wanting to improve children's diet for their health and to tackle childhood obesity. Claims about health or nutrition on non-core foods deserve urgent attention owing to their potential to mislead and confuse child and adult consumers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1763-1770
Number of pages8
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012


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