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Open AccessArticle

Marketing to Children in Supermarkets: An Opportunity for Public Policy to Improve Children’s Diets

1
Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, University of Connecticut, Hartford, CT 06103, USA
2
Springfield Psychological, Philadelphia, PA 19102, USA
3
Department of Allied Health Sciences, University of Connecticut, Mansfield, Storrs, CT 06269, USA
4
College of Global Public Health, New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(4), 1284; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17041284
Received: 5 January 2020 / Revised: 11 February 2020 / Accepted: 13 February 2020 / Published: 17 February 2020
Public health experts worldwide are calling for a reduction of the marketing of nutrient-poor food and beverages to children. However, industry self-regulation and most government policies do not address in-store marketing, including shelf placement and retail promotions. This paper reports two U.S.-based studies examining the prevalence and potential impact of in-store marketing for nutrient-poor child-targeted products. Study 1 compares the in-store marketing of children’s breakfast cereals with the marketing of other (family/adult) cereals, including shelf space allocation and placement, special displays and promotions, using a national audit of U.S. supermarkets. Child-targeted cereals received more shelf space, middle- and lower-shelf placements, special displays, and promotions compared with other cereals. Study 2 compares the proportion of product sales associated with in-store displays and promotions for child-targeted versus other fruit drinks/juices, using syndicated sales data. A higher proportion of child-targeted drink sales were associated with displays and promotions than sales of other drinks. In both categories, the results were due primarily to major company products. Although in-store marketing of child-targeted products likely appeals to both children and parents, these practices encourage children’s consumption of nutrient-poor food and drinks. If companies will not voluntarily address in-store marketing to children, government policy options are available to limit the marketing of unhealthy foods in the supermarket. View Full-Text
Keywords: food and beverage marketing; in-store marketing; childhood obesity; pester power; sugary drinks; children’s foods; food policy food and beverage marketing; in-store marketing; childhood obesity; pester power; sugary drinks; children’s foods; food policy
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L. Harris, J.; Webb, V.; J. Sacco, S.; L. Pomeranz, J. Marketing to Children in Supermarkets: An Opportunity for Public Policy to Improve Children’s Diets. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 1284.

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