Fast food restaurants may have added some healthy options to their kids' menus, but according to a new study, that's not enough. Researchers at Yale say that restaurants are doing very little to promote those healthy items to children.
What kids see on TV and what's in stores are completely different.
"So bottom line is they've made a few improvements, but overall fast food is still very unhealthy," said lead researcher Jennifer L. Harris, Ph.D., M.B.A., director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center.
The study also found that 97% of kids' meals don't even meet the restaurant industry's own standards for what is considered a healthy meal. The study showed that the healthy options are rarely offered as a default. Instead, unhealthy options like soft drinks and fries usually come by default. Also, at most fast food restaurants, at least half of young people's daily recommended sodium intake is contained in one meal.
"Despite pledges to improve their marketing practices, fast food companies seem to be stepping up their efforts to target kids," said Dr. Harris. "Today, preschoolers see 21% more fast food ads on TV than they saw in 2003, and somewhat older children see 34% more."
And the numbers prove the effectiveness. According to the study, 40% of children ages 2-11 ask their parents to go to McDonald's at least once a week, and 15% of preschoolers ask to go every day.
Read the full report here: http://news.yale.edu/2010/11/08/fast-food-restaurants-dish-unhealthy-marketing-youth-researchers-release-unprecedented-re