Children and fast food marketing

9 Oct

6319155216_0463fda84aA recent study from the researchers at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Kansas Medical Center suggests that children’s brains may be imprinted with the logos of popular fast food brands.

Using MRI technology, they monitored the brain activity of kids aged 10-14 as images of recognizable logos (some food-related, some not) appeared before them. The study found that the reward processing area and the appetite control area of the brain lit up only when the kids saw fast food logos.

Yet this reaction may not seem all that alarming. After all, whenever food is mentioned, our body’s natural response is to feel hungry. But these researchers found that children were likely to choose foods branded with a well-known logo. They were even asked to taste a hamburger from a label-less box compared to a hamburger with a box labeled from McDonald’s, and overwhelmingly, they favored the recognized McDonald’s labeled burger.

Dr. Amanda Bruce, the study leader, explained, “Research has shown children are more likely to choose those foods with familiar logos. That is concerning because the majority of foods marketed to children are unhealthy, calorifically-dense foods high in sugars, fat, and sodium.” Dr. Bruce and her associates believe that these companies are exploiting this knowledge to trigger the reward portions of children’s brains way before they have even developed self-control.

Click here to learn more about the study. Visit the Fast Food F.A.C.T.S website to get a better understanding of how marketing can affect children and check out this short news video about the report.

And if you’re hankering for a burger or some french fries, here are some recipes to kick that craving in a healthier way.

Photo courtesy of stefou!

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