Posted by: SmithaM | December 10, 2011

Changing Fast-Food Marketing: Toy bans and menu changes

In order to change dietary habits of children, advertising, as well as menu changes are important. A news article reports preliminary look at the ban on toys in fast-food meals for children:

…in 2010, a California county became the first in the nation to ban toys from fast-food children’s meals that were high in calories, salt, fat and sugar, with the idea being that eliminating the toys would make the meals less enticing to kids. And researchers say that the ordinance seems to be having an effect — at least on the way the fast-food chains advertise their goods.

In a preliminary look at whether the ban actually improved the menu options offered and marketed by fast-food chains, Jennifer Otten, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Prevention Research Center, and her colleagues included eight restaurants — four were in regions in Santa Clara county that had to comply with the ban, while the other four were in the same restaurant chains outside the ban’s jurisdiction.

With marked efforts to include healthier options, and provide nutritional information, the ban on toys and advertising for children has encourged New York and San Fransisco to consider similar bans.
Fast-food chains are predictably opposing these bans, and claim that the bans do not reduce childhood obesity. However, cartoon characters or other familiar images on food meant for children is shown to have marked effect on preferences, and how the food actually tastes.
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