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How do children make sense of food well-being? Food for thought for responsible retailers

Valérie Hémar-Nicolas (Department of Management, Paris Sud/Paris Saclay University, Sceaux, France)
Pascale Ezan (Department of Management, Le Havre University, Le Havre, France)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 14 December 2018

Issue publication date: 31 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to provide a better understanding of what well-being means to children in the food context and to formulate recommendations about the way food retailers may take actions to promote children’s food well-being (FWB).


A qualitative study based on a child-centric perspective is conducted with 25 French children aged 6–11 years. The data collection and analysis use both verbal and graphic data methods including focus groups and drawings in order to help children express their feelings and thoughts.


The findings put forward that according to children, the concept of FWB relies on five dimensions: sensory taste, health, commensality, empowerment and altruistic behaviours. Their discourses suggest that food practices contributes to objective, hedonic, eudaemonic and social well-being on the short and long term.

Practical implications

Based on children’s intrinsic needs for pleasure and empowerment, our recommendations highlight how food retailers might rethink their own-label offering, retail environment and communication to take into account young consumers’ FWB.


Drawing upon the concept of FWB and positive psychology, the authors do not only examine children’s food representations through a nutritional lens, but enlarge the scope to show how physical, emotional, psychological and social factors, involved in food context, contribute to different aspects of well-being.



Hémar-Nicolas, V. and Ezan, P. (2019), "How do children make sense of food well-being? Food for thought for responsible retailers", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 47 No. 6, pp. 605-622.



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