‘Foods, drinks marketed for kids have high sugar, low nutrients’

A child holds a pack of snack during a health awareness session in western Maharashtra state, India on March 28, 2019. — Reuters
A child holds a pack of snack during a health awareness session in western Maharashtra state, India on March 28, 2019. — Reuters

A new study has revealed that food for children with colorful labels and packaging with cartoons might indicate that the snack isn’t much nutritious, CNN reported.

Snacks that looked appealing to kids had high amounts of sugar and less amounts of nutrients, as per the study, which was published in the journal PLOS One.

The study analyzed the number of marketing strategies and their nutritional information by looking at nearly 6,000 packaged foods.

“There are many products in our grocery stores that are very powerfully marketed and heavily targeted to children,” said Dr. Christine Mulligan, who is the lead study author and post-doctoral researcher.

“Unfortunately, we also found that these products are, more often than not, very unhealthy and of worse nutritional quality than products that are not being promoted to children.”

Dr. Maya Adam, who is a clinical associate professor at the Stanford School of Medicine, said that companies use this strategy as children will grow up to be “brand-loyal adults” and keep coming back.

“As adults, around the world, we take extra precautions when it comes to our children. We buckle them into car seats, make sure they wear helmets,” said Adam, who was not part of the study.

“When it comes to packaged foods, the food industry is doing the opposite: actually promoting less healthy foods to the most vulnerable members of society.”

Mulligan said that the study looked only at products at one point in time.

“We are likely underestimating just how much marketing children are exposed to on food packages in real-time — and packaging is just one of the ways that food companies target children with food marketing,” she said.

She said that marketing impacts how kids eat which will impact their health throughout their lives.

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