A new study examines the marketing tactics of big fast food companies, and how they are geared specifically for kids.
Fast food advertisements on television may be more effective at influencing children than people might think. According to a report from Philly.com, a new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that fast food restaurants’ advertisements and promotions, especially the inclusion of a free toy with a kid’s meal, have a strong influence on the food choices of families.
The study found that the more often kids watched TV channels with frequent fast food adverts, the more likely their family was to eat out at a fast food restaurant.
The study examined a sample of 100 kids aged 3 to 7, along with one of their parents. The parents were asked to estimate how often their children watched one of four TV channels, if their children had asked to visit one of the country’s two leading fast food chains advertised on these TV channels, if the kids were interested in collecting the toys offered with children’s meals at these restaurants, and how often the families actually visited these establishments.
Roughly 80 percent of the advertisements geared towards children from the nation’s leading two fast food chains aired on these two channels, the study revealed.
The researchers found that 37 percent of parents reported that their families made frequent stops at the two major fast food chains, and 54 percent of the children in the study asked to visit these restaurants by name at least once. Twenty-nine percent of the kids enjoyed collecting the toys from children’s meals, and of these children, 83 percent had asked to visit one or both of the two major national fast food restaurant chains.
Other factors that influenced how much fast food kids ate was the number of televisions in the home, whether or not children had TVs in their bedrooms, what time of day kids watched TV and which channels they preferred to watch.
The study’s findings were published in the October 30 edition of the Journal of Pediatrics, and reveal that fast food advertisements geared towards children have a huge effect on the amount of fast food they actually wind up eating. According to Jennifer Edmond, a professor at the Dartmouth College Geisel School of Medicine, cutting down on the number of commercials a child is exposed to will help them forget about fast food.
A press release from the Journal of Pediatrics outlining the study’s findings can be found here.