Parents' Preferences for Health Labels on Foods for Children

Childhood obesity, which is directly linked to chronic illnesses and increased medical costs, has emerged as a critical national policy issue in the EU and the US. At the forefront of programs to reduce childhood obesity are efforts to shift consumption away from high-caloric and high-fat foods to healthier alternatives. One challenge in combating childhood obesity via induced shifts towards a healthier diet is that the majority of food consumed by younger children is purchased or prepared by someone else, i.e., a parent. Hence, it is critical to design initiatives aimed at affecting parents' purchases of healthy foods for their children. In this study we focus on the potential of front-of-package health labels specifically designed to signal parents foods that are healthy for children. We report results of a choice experiment administered to 733 parents with children between the ages of three and ten. In the experiments branded and unbranded yogurts marketed to children are considered with different health labels. In our analysis, we explicitly control for the child's body mass index (BMI) to assess how labels affect parents' food choices conditional on the health status of their child. Results from two mixed logit models are promising, indicating that (1) parents are willing to pay a premium for yogurts with a label denoting the food is a healthy choice for children and (2) parents with children who are overweight or obese, and hence already in the high risk category due to their body weight, are most affected by the labels.

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Paper removed at the request of the author.

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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