Logo recognition in children leads to unhealthy food choices
Children are highly influenced by advertising and marketing and are quick to recognise popular brands.
This is true for food preferences in developed countries like United States where the preference for fast food has been strongly associated with advertisements leading to high rates of overweight and obesity.
But little is known about media exposure and its effect on children in low to middle income countries.
Childhood obesity is a global public health concern and for this reason researchers investigated the link between marketing and media exposure and preference for international food and beverages in Brazil, India, China, Nigeria, Russia and Pakistan.
This cross-sectional study involved 2422 children with an average age of 5.5 years.
The study involved showing boys and girls pictures of media characters – both international and local popular ones – and asked to identify them.
Three-fourths of the children could name Tom and Jerry and two-thirds recognised Mickey Mouse.
The children also participated in a matching activity in which they were shown cards with different logos and asked to match each card with the item it may represent.
On the whole, 60 percent of the children were able to identify the Coca-Cola swirl with an image of a soda glass which included 91 percent of Brazilian children.
Approximately 72 percent of Russian children identified the picture of McDonald’s arches and matched it up with a picture of hamburger and fries.
To assess food preference, the researchers showed the children two similar products – one international and one domestic- and were asked which product they would want. The children were also asked to rate how much they desired the international and domestic product with the help of a rate system involving 0 to 4 smileys.
Overall and in each country, character and logo recognition was strongly associated with a preference for international foods and beverages over local food and beverage options after controlling for the child’s age, sex, home location and parental education.
The study found that the influence of logo recognition was even greater than that of media exposure.
Global and international marketing will reach children not only through broadcast media but through other medium such as billboards, packaging and branded items (backpacks, pyjamas etc.) and can be very persuasive, even in communities that lack other resources and benefits.
This has a major effect on children’s diet and health on a global scale resulting from food preferences the children make, suggesting that we need to regulated marketing and advertisements of food and beverages that can influence young children globally.
Source: Journal of Children and Media
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