The focus of recent Healthy Drinks Insider issues has been marketing of foods and drinks to kids. This final issue in the series is about marketing in fast food restaurants.
According to the CDC, one-third of US children and teens (age 2 to 19) will consume fast food on any given day. And on days when they have fast food, they eat more fat, salt and sugar. Let’s consider how kids’ selections may be influenced by marketing.
A recent study of marketing practices at 165 restaurants from five major fast food chains showed that ads are posted both inside and outside of restaurants and usually feature short-term price reductions for less healthy menu options. Other marketing tactics included prompts by employees to add items to the order. Ads directed at kids often included cartoon characters, toys, and/or featured characters from TV and movies. Although many restaurants had healthy options on their kids’ menu, they were rarely advertised.
So what does this mean for parents and others caring for children?
It means your efforts to encourage healthy choices may be undermined by marketing of unhealthy foods and drinks. Limiting kids’ exposure to marketing is one way to minimize its influence. This may be most important for young children who aren’t yet able to recognize marketing or understand the intent. Older kids can benefit from your advice and guidance on the subject.
This wraps up our series on marketing. We will ring in the New Year with small steps that can lead to big changes for you and your family’s health.
Do you have suggestions for a topic for our newsletter? If so, we would love to hear from you. Write to RethinkYourDrink@unr.edu. We will send you a free healthy drink recipe book for your suggestions!
This article was written and reviewed by Rethink Your Drink Nevada’s team of nutrition and dietetic professionals.