Food companies justify their marketing practices as simply a response to consumer demand. Companies claim that they would not sell unhealthy products to children if parents did not buy them. Parents always have the option to say “no” when their children pester them for foods they do not want to give them.
However, Rudd Center research demonstrates how food company marketing directly to children undermines parents’ good intentions to feed their children a healthful diet. Marketing affects parents too and we have identified several common misperceptions about food marketing to children.
- Nutritionally-poor child-targeted products, such as Sunny D or Capri Sun juice drinks, McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, and sugary cereals (e.g., Lucky Charms, Cocoa Krispies) are healthy options to feed their children.
- Food marketing to children is annoying, but harmless.
- Parents can protect their children from exposure to most food marketing by limiting their television viewing.
- There’s nothing that parents can do about food marketing to children.
Research and resources
- Focus groups with parents to understand perceptions of food marketing to their children
- Support for restricting food marketing to children requires awareness of the amount and impact of children’s food marketing exposure
- Public opinion poll on parents' and non-parents' perceptions of food marketing to youth
- Nutrition-related claims on high-sugar cereals lead parents to believe that the cereals are nutritious options to feed their children