Study Proves Junk Food Ads Make Kids Eat More Junk Food

Little girl with big burger or sandwich inside mouth

A new study has proven what we already suspected – that fast food ads make kids want to eat fast food.

The study from the US Journal of Pediatrics titled Kids Meals, Toys, and TV Advertisings suggests fast food companies that advertised toys with their meals prompted the kiddies to beg their parents to take them to the restaurants. And the more frequently they see the ads, the more they ate fast food.

The two chains in question, McDonalds and Burger King, showed ads across four US children’s networks, including Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.

Researchers surveyed 100 children aged between three and seven years along with their parents, who were asked how often the kids watched the TV channels and whether the children asked them to go to the two fast-food chains that advertised on the channels.

“Seventy nine per cent of the child-directed ads from those two restaurants aired on just four children’s networks,” lead researcher Jennifer Emond said.

Researchers found that 37 per cent of parents reported more frequent visits to the two fast food restaurants with child-directed TV ads.

Fifty-four per cent of the children requested visits to at least one of the restaurants, and of the 29 per cent of kids who collected toys from the restaurants, almost 83 per cent requested to visit one or both of the restaurants.

Some of the key contributors to more frequent visits included having more TVs in the house, a TV in the child’s bedroom, more time spent watching the box throughout the day, and more time spent glued to the particularly kid-targeted networks.

These findings also show that children’s food preferences may be partially shaped by a desire for the toys featured in TV ads.

“Our best advice to parents is to switch their child to commercial-free TV programming to help avoid pestering for foods seen in commercials,” Emond added.

You can find the report, Kids Meals, Toys, and TV Advertising here.

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