Food packaging marketing techniques which appeal to children (such as cartoon characters and brand mascots) affect children’s choices, preferences, and eating habits. Several studies have assessed the nutritional quality of food intended to children in various countries and concluded that most were high in fat, salt, and sugar (HFSS) and ultra-processed foods. The aim of this study is to analyse products intended for children over the age of 3 (foods and beverages with relevant marketing elements on the packaging) available on the French market as regards: (1) nutritional quality, based on the Nutri-Score labelling system, (2) compliance with expected nutritional profile suitable for children, according to the criteria of the WHO Europe Nutrient Profile Model, and (3) degree of processing, as defined by the NOVA classification, from packaging collected in 20 stores (hyper/supermarkets, hard-discount retail chains, and organic food stores). The marketing strategies most often used on children’s products are cartoons (97.22%; n
= 1120) and mascots (77.78%; n
= 896). A total of 1155 products were included in the study, most of which were sugary foods: almost a quarter of the products in the sample (23.81%; n
= 275) list a sweetener as the first ingredient, and most of them (89.52%; n
= 1034) contain free sugars according to the WHO definition. All the products included in our study feature marketing elements targeting on the packaging, yet 94.88% do not meet the criteria of the WHO Europe Nutrient Profile Model. Most (58.68%; n
= 676) belong to Nutri-Score groups D and E, with the highest proportion in group D (39.32%; n
= 453) and are ultra-processed (87.97%; n
= 1016), especially through the use of flavourings and ultra-processed sugars. Using the Nutri-Score, the WHO Europe Nutrient Profile Model, and the NOVA classification, this study suggests that a significant share of pre-packaged foods marketed to children do not have an adequate nutritional profile. As such, measures are needed to regulate what marketing elements aimed at children can be included on packaging, based on these criteria.
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