Monday, August 03, 2009

Food branding appeals more to overweight kids?

Here's a weird result.

A study published in the journal Appetite found that overweight children were more likely than healthy weight children to be influenced by the branding of food.

The 43 kids were presented with lunch options on 4 non-consecutive days. On two of the days they received branded foods that they were allowed to eat as much of as they wanted (Lunchables, Trix Yogurt) and on the other two days they were offered the same food just repackaged in non-branded containers.

The overweight children ate more overall and when presented with branded food, 40 more calories than when presented with non-branded. For the healthy weight kids, they in fact consumed 40 fewer calories when the food was branded. Researchers also found that boys responded more to branding than girls.

So what does this mean?

I'm not sure. Personally I wouldn't have expected there to be a difference.

I'd sure love to see a comparison of the kids' families' eating habits as I wonder if it could simply be that the kids who were overweight were more accustomed to branded food as a whole and consequently felt a more comfortable, familiar and positive attitude towards it than the healthy weight kids?

Forman, J., Halford, J., Summe, H., MacDougall, M., & Keller, K. (2009). Food branding influences ad libitum intake differently in children depending on weight status. Results of a pilot study Appetite, 53 (1), 76-83 DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2009.05.015