Child-targeted food marketing is a significant public health concern, prompting calls for its regulation. Product packaging is a powerful form of food marketing aimed at children, yet no published studies examine the range of literature on the topic or the “power” of its marketing techniques. This study attempts such a task. Providing a systematic scoping review of the literature on child-targeted food packaging, we assesses the nutritional profile of these foods, the types of foods examined, and the creative strategies used to attract children. Fifty-seven full text articles were reviewed. Results identify high level trends in methodological approaches (content analysis, 38%), outcomes measured (exposure, 44%) and with respect to age. Studies examining the nutritional profile of child-targeted packaged foods use various models, classifying from anywhere from 41% to 97% of products as unhealthy. Content analyses track the prevalence of child-targeted techniques (cartoon characters as the most frequently measured), while other studies assess their effectiveness. Overall, this scoping review offers important insights into the differences between techniques tracked and those measured for effectiveness in existing literature, and identifies gaps for future research around the question of persuasive power—particularly when it comes to children’s age and the specific types of techniques examined.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited