Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Do Fast Food Restaurants Target Children? by, Barbara Christensen

Thank you to Barbara Christensen of EatFreshInTheCity for contributing this article. Reprinted by permission.

                                          Do Fast Food Restaurants Target Children?
Yes, according to a lead story on our local news . Of course I had to know what they said in the study. It was done by the Yale Rudd Center and documented the menu items offered in these restaurant and how they are marketed to kids. They looked at 12 of the nation’s largest fast-food chains, including McDonald’s, Subway, Domino’s and KFC. Kelly Brownell, Ph.D, with the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, said, “Several of the largest fast-food companies have made pledges they would market less to children, but in fact, in the past several years, the amount of fast-food marketing has gone up.” In fact the article showed that the average preschooler sees three fast-food ads per day. I am not surprised. The other day my daughter was watching Sprout while I was cooking dinner, and my husband was shocked that there was a debt reduction commercial on a preschooler's channel. The truth is that your children are watching commercials geared towards decisions that they will want to make in life, that you most likely won’t want them to make. How many of you have kids with credit cards that are just 18 years old?
The study also found that at most fast food restaurants, a single meal contains at least half of young person’s daily recommended calories and sodium. Also they found that at least 30 percent of the calories in these meals bought by kids comes from sugar and saturated fats. And if you didn’t think that was bad enough they found that these fast food companies heavily target African American and Hispanic youth. African Americans see at least 50 percent more fast food ads than their white peers.
Do you want to learn more? There is a great website that I think every parent should check out Fast Food F.A.C.T.S. Some of the top facts that they shared may make you mad…in fact I hope that they do:
Only 12 of 3,039 possible kids’ meal combinations meet nutrition criteria for preschoolers. Only 15 meet nutrition criteria for older children. -Fast Food F.A.C.T.S.
40% of parents report their children ask to go to McDonald’s at least once a week; 15% of preschoolers ask to go every day. -Fast Food F.A.C.T.S.
84% of parents report taking their child to a fast food restaurant at least once a week. -Fast Food F.A.C.T.S.
Teens, 13-17, purchase 800-1,100 calories in an average fast food meal, roughly half their recommended daily total. -Fast Food F.A.C.T.S.
The fast food industry spent more than $4.2 billion dollars in 2009 on TV advertising and other media. -Fast Food F.A.C.T.S.
Our recommendation is to be in control of what your children eat. Make healthy meals at home, and send healthy meals to school. And I love what Bari Nan Cohen, prior entertainment editor for Good Housekeeping, said, “it’s really not whether or not you let your kids eat fast food that determines their nutritional fate, it’s how you talk about all food, all the time, that leaves the strongest impression.”

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