Study: Fast-Food Chains Target Kids through Unhealthy Options

By Tucker, Charlotte | The Nation's Health, January 2011 | Go to article overview

Study: Fast-Food Chains Target Kids through Unhealthy Options


Tucker, Charlotte, The Nation's Health


CHILDREN AS young as age 2 are bombarded with fast-food marketing messages, despite industry promises to offer healthier meal choices and reduce their targeting of children, according to recent research.

Studies discussed at APHA's 138th Annual Meeting in November found that the fast-food industry spends billions of dollars marketing to kids, according to Kelly Brownell, PhD, a professor at Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity and an APHA member.

Examining television advertising to children, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago found there have been decreases since 2003 in advertising for cereals, sweets and beverages aimed at children, but that children of all ages are seeing increasing numbers of fast-food ads.

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The marketing takes several forms, researchers found. There are ads that tell children what to do, and ads that use toy giveaways to entice kids into restaurants. Once there, the news does not get better, researchers found.

McDonald's and Burger King offer healthier options such as apple slices, but those options must generally be requested by parents rather than offered as a default option.

Researchers from the Rudd Center visited 50 locations of the five largest restaurant chains: McDonald's, Burger King,Wendy's, Subway and Taco Bell. …

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