IJERPH, Vol. 16, Pages 5032: Investigating the Effects of Non-Branded Foods Placed in Cartoons on Children`s Food Choices through Type of Food, Modality and Age (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
Cartoons are among the most consumed media products by children, especially those at a young age. While branded food placements are not allowed in animated series, non-branded food placements are prevalent. However, little is known about the effects that these food placements might have on children’s eating preferences. In an experimental study with 124 children (51.6% girls, age range: 7–11, Mage = 9.24, and SD = 1.19), 62 children in the experimental condition were exposed to 16 food placements in cartoons, whereas children in the control condition were exposed to cartoon scenes without foods. The healthiness of the placed foods (low nutritional value foods versus high nutritional value foods) as well as the modality of food placements (unimodal versus bimodal) were manipulated. After watching the cartoon scenes, children completed a choice task where each placed food appeared on a separate choice card. Our results indicate that non-branded low nutritional value foods placed in cartoons are an effective strategy in modifying children’s food choices when children are under age 9. We suggest that policy makers, particularly those involved in the content design of cartoons, take these results into account when placing low nutritional value foods in cartoons, especially for an animated series that targets young child audiences.