Background: Childhood obesity is a pertinent public health problem in the UK. Consumption of free sugars, has been associated with the development of obesity. In 2018, the Change 4Life (C4L) 100 calorie snack campaign was launched with the slogan ‘100 calorie snacks, two a day max’, aiming to encourage parents to choose lower sugar, fat and calorie snacks for their children. This study aimed to examine how the campaign has been perceived by parents.
Methods: An online survey was developed to explore parent awareness, perceptions and understanding of the C4L 100 calorie snack campaign. Respondents were recruited via Leeds City Council, posters displayed at primary schools and children’s centres across Leeds and via social media. Paper surveys were also shared with voluntary led playgroups.
Results: 342 respondents completed the survey. Just over half of the respondents had come across the campaign, most seeing the leaflet or a television advert. Over two thirds of respondents ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that the campaign caught their attention. A similar proportion ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that the campaign informed them about 100 calorie snacks and just over a half thought it was memorable. Most respondents used positive language to describe the campaign, but there was no clear consensus of a perceived positive impact on healthier snack purchasing, nor preparing more 100 calorie snacks at home. Respondents provided examples of how the campaign could be improved to positively impact eating behaviours: better publicity and information delivery; healthier snack examples made more visible; improved nutritional labelling and access to healthier products in supermarkets (availability, promotion, display, choice).
Conclusions: The C4L 100 calorie snack campaign was perceived positively by parents and carers, with many agreeing that the campaign was informative and memorable. However, there was no agreement in terms of the parents reporting an impact of the campaign on behaviour change and healthier snack habits. Future social marketing campaigns could be improved through more formal pilot testing to assess the understanding and acceptance of the campaign amongst the target audience.