Baby Food Marketing Often Contradicts Expert Advice
Daniel P. Jones
Marketing for baby and toddler food and drinks often contradicts the advice of health professionals, using messages that may lead parents to believe these commercial products are healthier alternatives to breastmilk or homemade food, according to a new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at UConn.
The new Baby Food FACTS report found that companies spent $77 million in 2015 to advertise infant formula, baby food, and toddler food and beverages to parents, primarily through TV, magazines, and the internet. By comparison, companies spent $98 million to advertise fruits and vegetables in 2015 – products intended for the entire U.S. population.
Jennifer Harris, director of marketing initiatives for the UConn Rudd Center and lead author of the report, and her Rudd Center team compiled data from syndicated media sources for baby and toddler food and drinks, including the amount spent on advertising to parents and parents’ exposure to the advertising. In addition, they analyzed the nutritional content of advertised products, and marketing messages and claims in advertising and on product packages. The team also examined advertising to Hispanic parents in Spanish-language media.