Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fast food giants' ads for healthier kids meals don't send the right message

Date:
March 31, 2014
Source:
Norris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
Summary:
Children who viewed TV ads for Kids Meals were commonly unable to recall milk or apples, items added to make the meals healthier. Instead many kids thought apples were french fries. Researchers found that one-half to one-third of children did not identify milk when shown McDonald's and Burger King children's advertising images depicting that product. Sliced apples in Burger King's ads were identified as apples by only 10 percent of young viewers; instead most reported they were french fries.

Fast food giants attempts at depicting healthier kids' meals frequently goes unnoticed by children ages 3 to 7 years old according to a new study by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center. In research published on March 31, 2014 in JAMA Pediatrics, Dartmouth researchers found that one-half to one-third of children did not identify milk when shown McDonald's and Burger King children's advertising images depicting that product. Sliced apples in Burger King's ads were identified as apples by only 10 percent of young viewers; instead most reported they were french fries.

Other children admitted being confused by the depiction, as with one child who pointed to the product and said, "And I see some…are those apples slices?"

The researcher replied, "I can't tell you…you just have to say what you think they are."

"I think they're french fries," the child responded.

To view a videotape of this and other responses from children participating in the study, click on the following link: http://youtu.be/Tl9uHUeWztY

"Burger King's depiction of apple slices as 'Fresh Apple Fries' was misleading to children in the target age range," said principal investigator James Sargent, MD, co-director Cancer Control Research Program at Norris Cotton Cancer Center. "The advertisement would be deceptive by industry standards, yet their self-regulation bodies took no action to address the misleading depiction."

In 2010 McDonald's and Burger King began to advertise apples and milk in kids meals. Sargent and his colleagues studied fast food television ads aimed at children from July 2010 through June 2011. In this study researchers extracted "freeze frames" of Kids Meals shown in TV ads that appeared on Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and other children's cable networks. Of the four healthy food depictions studied, only McDonald's presentation of apple slices was recognized as an apple product by a large majority of the target audience, regardless of age. Researchers found that the other three presentations represented poor communication.

This study follows an earlier investigation conducted by Sargent and his colleagues, which found that McDonald's and Burger King children's advertising emphasized giveaways like toys or box office movie tie-ins to develop children's brand awareness for fast food chains, despite self-imposed guidelines that discourage the practice.

While the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission play important regulatory roles in food labeling and marketing, the Better Business Bureau operates a self-regulatory system for children's advertising. Two different programs offer guidelines to keep children's advertising focused on the food, not toys, and, more specifically, on foods with nutritional value.

"The fast food industry spends somewhere between $100 to 200 million dollars a year on advertising to children, ads that aim to develop brand awareness and preferences in children who can't even read or write, much less think critically about what is being presented." said Sargent.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Norris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Amy M. Bernhardt, Cara Wilking, Mark Gottlieb, Jennifer Emond, James D. Sargent. Children’s Reaction to Depictions of Healthy Foods in Fast-Food Television Advertisements. JAMA Pediatrics, 2014; DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.140

Cite This Page:

Norris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. "Fast food giants' ads for healthier kids meals don't send the right message." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140331170418.htm>.
Norris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. (2014, March 31). Fast food giants' ads for healthier kids meals don't send the right message. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140331170418.htm
Norris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. "Fast food giants' ads for healthier kids meals don't send the right message." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140331170418.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.S. Food Makers Surpass Calorie-Cutting Pledge

U.S. Food Makers Surpass Calorie-Cutting Pledge

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) Sixteen large food and beverage companies in the United States that committed to cut calories in their products far surpassed their target. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

AP (Sep. 17, 2014) The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it plans to keep a key interest rate at a record low because a broad range of U.S. economic measures remain subpar. Stocks hit an all-time high on the news. (Sept. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins