Children's understandings and motivations surrounding novelty sweets: A qualitative study

Kate F. Stewart, Ruth M. Fairchild, Rhiannon J. Jones, Lindsay Hunter, Carol Harris, Maria Z. Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Novelty sweets resemble or can be used as toys, are brightly coloured, with striking imagery, and sold at pocket money prices. They encourage regular consumption as packaging can be resealed, leading to prolonged exposure of these high-sugar and low pH products to the oral tissues, risk factors for dental caries and erosion, respectively.

Aim: To determine how children conceptualise novelty sweets and their motivations for buying and consuming them.

Design: Focus groups conducted using a brief schedule of open-ended questions, supported by novelty sweets used as prompts in the latter stages. Participants were school children (aged 9–10) from purposively selected state primary schools in Cardiff, UK.

Results: Key findings related to the routine nature of sweet eating; familiarity with and availability of novelty sweets; parental awareness and control; lack of awareness of health consequences; and the overall appeal of novelty sweets.

Conclusions: Parents reported vagueness regarding consumption habits and permissiveness about any limits they set may have diluted the concept of treats. Flexible permissiveness to sweet buying applied to sweets of all kinds. Parents' reported lack of familiarity with novelty sweets combined with their low cost, easy availability, high sugar content, and acidity give cause for concern.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-434
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Paediatric Dentistry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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