The impact of front-of-pack marketing attributes versus nutrition and health information on parents’ food choices

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Appetite, 2017, 116 pp. 323 - 338
Issue Date:
2017-09-01
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© 2017 Front-of-pack attributes have the potential to affect parents’ food choices on behalf of their children and form one avenue through which strategies to address the obesogenic environment can be developed. Previous work has focused on the isolated effects of nutrition and health information (e.g. labeling systems, health claims), and how parents trade off this information against co-occurring marketing features (e.g. product imagery, cartoons) is unclear. A Discrete Choice Experiment was utilized to understand how front-of-pack nutrition, health and marketing attributes, as well as pricing, influenced parents’ choices of cereal for their child. Packages varied with respect to the two elements of the Australian Health Star Rating system (stars and nutrient facts panel), along with written claims, product visuals, additional visuals, and price. A total of 520 parents (53% male) with a child aged between five and eleven years were recruited via an online panel company and completed the survey. Product visuals, followed by star ratings, were found to be the most significant attributes in driving choice, while written claims and other visuals were the least significant. Use of the Health Star Rating (HSR) system and other features were related to the child's fussiness level and parents’ concerns about their child's weight with parents of fussy children, in particular, being less influenced by the HSR star information and price. The findings suggest that front-of-pack health labeling systems can affect choice when parents trade this information off against marketing attributes, yet some marketing attributes can be more influential, and not all parents utilize this information in the same way.
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