In an age in which childhood obesity rates are climbing up, up, and up, it’s about time we put down that Burger King Double whopper, right? Well, you’d think that would be the case, but it isn’t as a new study says that fast food advertising is managing to manipulate our children more than it does to adults.
According to the New York Times, researchers from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth University looked at a small sample of 100 children aged 3 to 7 in a rural community with relatively limited access to fast food. The study revealed that the more children saw commercials from McDonalds, Burger King and Wendys, the more those children asked their parents to take them there.
Here’s a little more:
The researchers looked specifically at the children’s viewing of Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, Cartoon Network and Disney, all ad-supported cable TV networks that cater to preschoolers and young children. Earlier research found that during 2009-2010, 79 percent of all child-directed fast-food ads were broadcast on those networks, and 99 percent of those ads were for McDonald’s and Burger King. The researchers found that the more of those networks a child in the study watched in 2011, the more likely she was to ask to visit these restaurants, and the more likely the family was to eat at them.
What’s more (and rather disturbing), the same research group found that many children couldn’t remember or identify healthful foods, such as milk, in the ads, and that 81 percent of the 99 3 to 7-year-olds in that study recalled French fries in an ad from Burger King even though apple slices, rather than french fries, were pictured.
So as parents, what should we do? Turn off Nickelodeon? Drive by McDonalds and pretend that it’s not there? I don’t know about you, but I hear PBS has some great children’s programming.
But I will tell you, this sure as heck did work on my children. When they found out that McDonalds Happy Meals carried Minions figurines, they wanted to collect all of them before they sold out. Well played, McDonalds, well played.
Photo source via YouTube