McDonald’s, apparently unaffected by various lawsuits, including the now famous McLibel case, and weathering the waves of criticism which erupted following the Super Size Me movie, is a favourite with tiny tots, says a new study.
If you’re a parent and that doesn’t send shivers down your spine, nothing will.
“Anything made by McDonald’s tastes better, preschoolers said in a study that powerfully demonstrates how advertising can trick the taste buds of young children,” says Associated Press.
Carrots, milk and apple all juice tasted better, “wrapped in the familiar packaging of the Golden Arches,” says the story.
“You see a McDonald’s label and kids start salivating,” It has Diane Levin, a childhood development specialist who campaigns against advertising to kids, saying.
It’s long been established that if you say something often enough and loud enough people will eventually swallow it, even though it’s obviously incorrect or even repulsive, p2pnet posted in May, going on:
You could ask Nazi information minister Joseph Goebbels about this, if he were alive. Or you could talk to the spin doctors working for the entertainment cartels. By constant repetition, they’ve managed to turn simple copyright infringement into a major crime.
Then there’s the famous Pavlovian reflex.
Ivan Petrovich Pavlov was studying digestion, using dogs as his subjects. He found that by ringing a bell repeatedly and offering them food, he could ‘condition’ them to salivate by merely sounding the bell.
Sixty three “low-income children” aged three to five from Head Start centers in San Mateo County in California were included in the study whose author, Dr. Tom Robinson, is quoted as saying he believes the results would be similar for children from wealthier families, according to AP.
The research, published in this month’s Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, comes less than a month after 11 major food and drink companies, including McDonald’s, announced new curbs on marketing to children younger than 12, the state AP continuing:
McDonald’s says the only Happy Meals it will promote to young children will contain fruit and have fewer calories and less fat.
“This is an important subject and McDonald’s has been actively addressing it for quite some time,” company spokesman Walt Riker said.
Children tasted five pairs of identical foods and beverages in packaging from McDonald’s and matched but unbranded packaging and were asked to indicate if they tasted the same or if one tasted better, says Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, adding:
The mean ± SD total taste preference score across all food comparisons was 0.37 ± 0.45 (median, 0.20; interquartile range, 0.00-0.80) and significantly greater than zero (P<.001), indicating that children preferred the tastes of foods and drinks if they thought they were from McDonald`s. Moderator analysis found significantly greater effects of branding among children with more television sets in their homes and children who ate food from McDonald’s more often.
Conclusion: Branding of foods and beverages influences young children’s taste perceptions. The findings are consistent with recommendations to regulate marketing to young children …”
But it’s not all bad
The study also suggested branding could be a useful worry to improve young children’s eating behaviors.
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Associated Press – Kids prefer McDonald’s-wrapped food, study finds, August 7, 2007
p2pnet – More ads for Canadian TV, May 19, 2007
Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine – Effects of Fast Food Branding on Young Children’s Taste Preferences, 2007;161:792-797.
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