236786 Findings from a content analysis of toddler snack foods: Health claims, ingredient claims, and use of unregulated advertising terms

Monday, October 31, 2011

Chan Le Thai, MPH , Department of Communication, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA
Introduction: A number of toddler snack food packages have recently been criticized for presenting misleading health information. A content analysis of package features of toddler snack foods was conducted to investigate how often certain health-implying front-of-package features appeared on these packages. It was found that most of these packages use such features and these features often contained misleading health information. Methods: Five undergraduate coders coded 68 products. Coded features include health claims, nutrient claims, ingredient claims, and graphics. Ingredient claims and graphics of potential ingredients were identified and cross-referenced with the ingredient list on the back of the package. Results: The data revealed that almost all of the packages used the coded features: 82% of the sample featured nutrient claims; 52% featured health claims; 97% included graphical depictions and 66% of those graphics were possible ingredients in the product; and 86% featured ingredient claims. Discussion: Of all the products that contained an ingredient claim or graphics of a potential ingredient, the ingredient used in the claim or graphical feature was present in the ingredient list, but the ingredient was often in a non-conventional form, such as a puree, a powder, flavor, or color. Furthermore, the featured ingredient was often very far down in the ingredient list, which has been the issue raised in legal disputes. The findings from this study provide a foundation of knowledge that may guide future research and policies related to package labeling and the design of future nutrition education interventions.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Upon exposure to the information in this abstract, learners will be able to: -Define different types of claims used on packages -Differentiate between the types of claims that are regulated and unregulated - Identify and discuss recent legal disputes that have arisen over the types of claims and graphic elements included on food packaging -Demonstrate knowledge about findings from comparing front-of-package claims with ingredient lists - Identify implications for studying front-of-package claims for policy and nutrition education interventions

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Health Education Strategies

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I designed and conducted the research project and also analyzed the data.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.