Young children’s food brand knowledge. Early development and associations with television viewing and parent’s diet
M. Tatlow-Golden; E. Hennessy; M. Dean; L. Hollywood
Year of publication
Brand knowledge is a prerequisite of children's requests and choices for branded foods. We explored the development of young children's brand knowledge of foods highly advertised on television - both healthy and less healthy. Participants were 172 children aged 3-5 years in diverse socio-economic settings, from two jurisdictions on the island of Ireland with different regulatory environments. Results indicated that food brand knowledge (i) did not differ across jurisdictions; (ii) increased significantly between 3 and 4 years; and (iii) children had significantly greater knowledge of unhealthy food brands, compared with similarly advertised healthy brands. In addition, (iv) children's healthy food brand knowledge was not related to their television viewing, their mother's education, or parent or child eating. However, (v) unhealthy brand knowledge was significantly related to all these factors, although only parent eating and children's age were independent predictors. Findings indicate that effects of food marketing for unhealthy foods take place through routes other than television advertising alone, and are present before pre-schoolers develop the concept of healthy eating. Implications are that marketing restrictions of unhealthy foods should extend beyond television advertising; and that family-focused obesity prevention programmes should begin before children are 3 years of age.