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  • Publication
    'Big, strong and healthy': Young children's identification of food and drink that contribute to healthy growth
    Growing awareness of the importance of healthy diet in early childhood makes it important to chart the development of children's understanding of food and drink.  This study aimed to document young children's evaluation of food and drink as healthy, and to explore relationships with socioeconomic status, family eating habits, and children's television viewing.  Data were gathered from children aged 3 to 5 years (n = 172) in diverse socioeconomic settings in Ireland, and from their parents. Results demonstrated that children had very high levels of ability to identify healthy foods as important for growth and health, but considerably less ability to reject unhealthy items, although knowledge of these increased significantly between ages 3 and 5.  Awareness of which foods were healthy, and which foods were not, was not related to family socioeconomic status, parent or child home eating habits, or children's television viewing. Results highlighted the importance of examining young children's response patterns, as many of the youngest showed a consistent 'yes bias'; however, after excluding these responses, the significant findings remained. Findings suggest it is important to teach children about less healthy foods in the preschool years. 
    Scopus© Citations 36  794
  • Publication
    Young children's food brand knowledge. Early development and associations with television viewing and parent's diet
    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.
      919Scopus© Citations 21