A qualitative study of children’s snack food packaging perceptions and preferences.
Sommaire de l'article
Food marketing is pervasive in high- and low/middle-income countries and is recognized as a significant risk factor for childhood obesity. Although food packaging is one of the most important marketing tools to persuade consumers at the point-of-sale, scant research has examined how it influences children's perceptions. This study was conducted in Guatemala and aimed to understand which snack foods are the most frequently purchased by children and how aspects of food packaging influence their product perceptions.
Six activity-based focus groups were conducted in two elementary public schools with thirty-seven children (Grades 1 through 6, age range 7-12 years old). During each focus group, children participated in three activities: 1) list their most frequently purchased food products; 2) select the picture of their favorite product, the packaging they liked best, and the product they thought was the healthiest from eight choices; and 3) draw the package of a new snack.
Children reported purchasing salty snacks most frequently. Most children chose their favorite product based on taste perceptions, which can be influenced by food packaging. Visual elements influenced children's selection of favorite packaging (i.e., characters, colors) and healthiest product (i.e., images), and persuaded some children to incorrectly think certain foods contained healthy ingredients. When children generated their own drawings of a new product, the most frequently included packaging elements in the drawings were product name, price, product image and characters, suggesting those aspects of the food packaging were most significant to them.
Policies regulating package content and design are required to discourage consumption of unhealthy snacks. This might be another public health strategy that can aid to halt the obesity epidemic.