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Toddler milk (i.e. a nutrient-fortified milk-based drink marketed for children 12–36 months old) is increasingly being marketed in the USA despite not being recommended for young children. There is evidence of targeted toddler milk marketing to Latinos in the USA. This study aimed to explore toddler milk perceptions and behaviours among Latino and non-Latino parents.
An online survey assessed toddler milk perceptions, behaviours and interpretations of nutrition-related claims. Multivariable logistic and linear regression explored socio-demographic correlates of parent reported past purchases and perceived healthfulness.
National convenience sample of 1078 US parents of children aged 2–12 years (48 % Latino).
About half of parents (51 %) had previously purchased toddler milk and few (11 %) perceived toddler milk as unhealthy. Latino parents were more likely to have purchased toddler milk than non-Latino parents (P < 0·001), but there were no differences in perceived product healthfulness (P = 0·47). Compared to parents born in the USA, parents living in the USA 10 years or less were more likely to have purchased toddler milk (P < 0·001) and perceive toddler milk as healthier (P = 0·002). Open-ended interpretations of claims were primarily positive, suggesting ‘health halo’ effects.
Common misperceptions about toddler milk healthfulness suggest stronger labelling regulations are needed. Greater reported purchases by Latino parents and recent immigrants warrant further investigation.
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