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Comment & Response
September 21, 2017

Notice of Retraction and Replacement. Wansink B, Just DR, Payne CR. Can Branding Improve School Lunches? Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166(10):967-968. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2012.999

Author Affiliations
  • 1Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
  • 2Department of Marketing, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico
JAMA Pediatr. Published online September 21, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.3136

To the Editor In the Research Letter titled “Can Branding Improve School Lunches?” published in the October 2012 issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine,1 we inadvertently provided an incorrect description of the study design and sample size, used an inadequate statistical procedure, and presented a mislabeled bar graph. This study explored the association of branding apples with cartoon characters with their selection among 208 students aged 8 to 11 years. The data were collected as an independent part of a larger semester-long project by Cornell University personnel, under the direction of a laboratory manager, from March to June 2008; the overall study was under the supervision of the first author (B.W.). These errors were recently discovered in the course of rechecking the data and the labeling of the Figure following a letter we received from a reader on February 12, 2017.

In the original description of the study methods, we had erroneously reported that children were individually offered an opportunity to take 1 or both of an apple or cookie. Instead, children were offered to take either an apple or a cookie (not both). Also, there was reporting of the sample size and the total number of observations. This study was part of a larger multiple-week study involving 208 students. For the 5 days this study was conducted, the total number of observations is not 1040 (5 × 208) but was reduced to 615 owing to absenteeism, missing data, or miscoded observations. In addition to the Monday and Friday control conditions, the treatment conditions (apple with Elmo sticker, cookie with Elmo sticker, and apple with unknown sticker) varied for each child on each of the days (Tuesday through Thursday) and this was randomized within schools. The missing data are a result of either a student being absent on any 1 of the days or a missing condition code, a missing choice code, an unknown choice code, a multiple condition code, or a wrong condition code (Table). In addition, 1 location included no condition 3 (apple with unfamiliar sticker) and another location included only the Monday control condition (condition 5, pretest control), and thus, the missingness of the condition is not independent from these schools. However, the results are similar with or without the inclusion of these 2 locations.

Table.  Types of Missing Observations at the School Level
Types of Missing Observations at the School Level

In addition, instead of the 1-tailed statistical tests inappropriately used in the original analysis, we have conducted a new analysis comparing the odds of a child selecting an apple in each experimental condition with the odds of them selecting an apple in the pretest condition. We used a generalized estimating equation model with a binominal distribution and a logit link with repeated measures at the child level and fixed effects for school and condition. These results confirm the preplanned comparison that Elmo-branded apples were associated with an increase in a child’s selection of an apple over a cookie (20.7% to 33.8%; Wald χ2 = 5.158, P = .02). Also consistent with the earlier reported findings, when compared with this same unbranded pretest control condition, apple selection was not significantly associated with the unbranded apples with control stickers (Wald χ2 = 0.945, P = .33), Elmo-branded cookies (Wald χ2 = 0.452, P = .50), or in the posttest condition (Wald χ2 = 2.661, P = .10).

Finally, the original Figure plotted the number of students selecting either a cookie or an apple in the bar graph. This has been corrected to display the percentage of students making the selection with both unadjusted and adjusted results presented.

We confirm that there are no other errors or omissions in the original article. The overall conclusions of the study as originally reported remain after correcting for these errors: branding an apple with a cartoon character was associated with an increase in student selection of an apple.

We regret these errors as well as the confusion they caused the readers and editors of JAMA Pediatrics. We have requested that the editors retract and replace the original Research Letter.1 The text and the Figure have been corrected and replaced online. We have also added a new Reproducible Research Statement with a link to the data, analysis scripts, and output files in an archive of the Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research. An online supplement has been added that includes a PDF version of the original article with the errors highlighted and a PDF version of the replacement article with the corrections highlighted.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Brian Wansink, PhD, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University, 475 Warren Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853 (wansink@cornell.edu).

Published Online: September 21, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.3136

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

Funding/Support: This study was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the Healthy Eating Grant Program.

Role of the Funder/Sponsor: This funding source had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, or interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; or the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Wansink  B, Just  DR, Payne  CR.  Can branding improve school lunches?  Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166(10):967-968.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref