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Nutrition Profile of Products with Cartoon Animations on the Packaging: A UK Cross-Sectional Survey of Foods and Drinks

Authors
  • Pombo-Rodrigues, Sonia
  • Hashem, Kawther M.
  • Tan, Monique
  • Davies, Zoe
  • He, Feng J.
  • MacGregor, Graham A.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Nutrients
Publisher
MDPI AG
Publication Date
Mar 06, 2020
Volume
12
Issue
3
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3390/nu12030707
PMID: 32155881
PMCID: PMC7146528
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

Background: Marketing, including the use of cartoon animations on packaging, has been shown to influence the food children choose to eat. This paper aims to determine the nutritional quality of UK food and drink products featuring child-friendly characters on pack. Methods: A comprehensive cross-sectional survey of food and drink with packaging appealing to children available in the UK. Products were classified high in fat, salt and/or sugar (HFSS) according to the UK nutrient profiling model and guidance for front of pack nutrition labelling. Logistic regression was used to determine whether there was a significant relationship between nutritional quality of products, and animation type. Results: Over half (51%) of 532 products with animations on packaging were classified as HFSS. Food products featuring unlicensed characters were significantly more likely to be deemed HFSS than those with licensed characters, according to both the nutrient profiling model (odds ratio (OR) 2.1, 95% CI: 1.3 to 3.4) and front of pack nutrition labelling system (OR 2.3, 95% confidence interval CI: 1.4 to 3.7). Conclusions: The use of cartoon characters on HFSS products is widespread. Policies to restrict the use of such marketing tactics should be considered to prevent children being targeted with unhealthy foods and drinks.

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