The Impact of Toddler Milk Claims on Beliefs and Misperceptions: A Randomized Experiment with Parents of Young Children.

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Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers
Document Type: Report
Length: 498 words

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Keywords Toddler milk; Structure/function claims; Marketing; Health halo; Nutrition Abstract Background Toddler milk (ie, a nutrient-fortified milk-based drink marketed for children aged 12 to 36 months) has been marketed increasingly in the United States with structure/function claims on product packaging that are potentially misleading. Objective This study examined how structure/function claims impact parents' beliefs and perceptions about a toddler milk product. Design This was a 3-arm between-subjects randomized experiment. Participants A diverse sample of 2,190 US parents of children aged 1 to 5 years were chosen to take an online survey. Intervention Participants were randomly assigned to view a toddler milk package with either an unrelated claim ("new and improved," ie, control condition), a "brain development" claim (ie, "brain" claim), or an "immunity-related" claim (ie, "immunity" claim). Main outcome measures Outcomes included perceptions, intentions, and beliefs about the toddler milk product. Statistical analyses performed Linear regression for continuous outcomes and logistic regression for dichotomous outcomes. Results Parents who were exposed to the "brain" claim or the "immunity" claim were more likely to incorrectly believe that the toddler milk was as healthy or healthier than cow's milk compared with those who saw the control claim (89% for brain claim, 87% for immunity claim, and 79% for control; P Conclusions These findings suggest that structure/function claims on toddler milk packaging may mislead parents and increase the appeal of toddler milk. Our findings support calls for public health policies to regulate marketing on toddler milk packaging. * Address correspondence to: UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, 312 Rosenau Hall | CB#7440, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7440. Article History: Received 22 December 2020; Accepted 10 August 2021 (footnote) Supplementary materials: and are available at (footnote) STATEMENT OF POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors. (footnote) FUNDING/SUPPORT The survey data used in this study were supported by a grant from Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. K01HL147713 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health supported M. G. Hall's time working on the article. This research also received support from the Population Research Infrastructure Program awarded to the Carolina Population Center (P2C HD050924) at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Byline: Ana Paula C. Richter, MPH, Emily W. Duffy, MPH, RD, Lindsey Smith Taillie, PhD, Jennifer L. Harris, PhD, Jennifer L. Pomeranz, MPH, JD, Marissa G. Hall, PhD [] (*)

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A694141997