NIHR Obesity Policy Research Unit at UCL


Licensed & brand equity characters in marketing unhealthy foods: impact on child's dietary outcomes


The impact on dietary outcomes of licensed and brand equity characters in marketing unhealthy foods to children: A systematic review and meta‐analysis


The primary aim of this review was to quantify the impact of both licensed and brand equity characters on children’s dietary outcomes given that existing regulations often differentiate between these character types. 


Children are exposed and targeted by a multitude of food and drinks marketing, the majority for products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS). Advertising increases short-term consumption, preference for, and purchase intention of HFSS products by children. The impact on consumption can accumulate, as small excesses in daily energy intake can contribute to overweight and obesity over time. Advertising of HFSS food and drinks is high on the public health and policy agenda; the use characters in marketing has been identified as a persuasive technique. 


We systematically searched eight interdisciplinary databases and included studies from 2009 onwards, including all countries and languages. Participants were children under 16 years, exposure was marketing for HFSS product with a character and the outcomes were dietary consumption, preference or purchasing behaviours of HFSS products. Data allowed for meta-analysis of taste preferences. 



  • December 2021