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Jans, Steffi de; Spielvogel, Ines; Naderer, Brigitte and Hudders, Liselot (2021): Digital food marketing to children: How an influencer?s lifestyle can stimulate healthy food choices among children. In: Appetite, Vol. 162, 105182

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While influencer marketing has been shown to be effective at promoting food low in nutritional value among children, it is less clear whether influencers can also be used to promote healthy nutrition. This article reports on the results of an experimental study on whether and how influencer marketing on Instagram can be deployed to stimulate healthy eating behavior among children. In particular, the study examines whether signaling a healthy, athletic lifestyle can affect children?s healthy snack choice (i.e., choice of a snack high in nutritional value). To do so, a two (influencer lifestyle: sedentary versus athletic) by two (snack type: low in nutritional value versus high in nutritional value) between-subjects experiment was conducted among 190 children between eight and 12 years. The results show that promoting a sedentary lifestyle (compared to an athletic lifestyle) resulted in more children choosing the product high in nutritional value. In addition, the children chose a healthy snack more frequently when an influencer portraying a sedentary lifestyle (compared to an athletic lifestyle) promoted a product low in nutritional value. There were no significant interaction effects of influencer lifestyle and snack type on the evaluation of the influencer. However, the study did show that there was less admiration for the influencer when they portrayed a sedentary lifestyle versus an athletic lifestyle.

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