Anything made by McDonald's tastes better, US preschoolers said in a study that powerfully demonstrates how advertising can trick the taste buds of young children.Evil advertising. So tricky.
Even carrots, milk and apple juice tasted better to the children when they were wrapped in the familiar packaging of the Golden Arches.That's great. Wrap your kids' food in McDonald's wrappers every so often in order to get them to eat healthy food. What's the problem?
The study had youngsters sample identical McDonald's foods in name-brand and unmarked wrappers. The unmarked foods always lost the taste test.
"You see a McDonald's label and kids start salivating," said Diane Levin, a childhood development specialist who campaigns against advertising to children. She had no role in the research.Forget kids; I start salivating.
Levin said it was "the first study I know of that has shown so simply and clearly what's going on with (marketing to) young children."That is drawing quite a long bow...
Study author Dr Tom Robinson said the kids' perception of taste was "physically altered by the branding." The Stanford University researcher said it was remarkable how children so young were already so influenced by advertising.And here's one problem with the study. McDonald's is a treat for low-income families meaning that the brand is going to resonate more powerfully with them than the more well to do for whom McDonald's is a more frequent meal.
The study involved 63 low-income children ages 3 to 5 from Head Start centres in San Mateo County, California. Robinson believes the results would be similar for children from wealthier families.
The research, appearing in August's Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, was funded by Stanford and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.Let me get this straight. For the socialists that now want to control what we eat, advertising to kids is a negative but this same group of people are quite happy to indoctrinate kids at school with drivel like An Inconvenient Truth and Heather Has Two Mommies?
The study will likely stir more debate over the movement to restrict ads to children. It comes less than a month after 11 major food and drink companies, including McDonald's, announced new curbs on marketing to children under 12.
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," said company spokesman Walt Riker. "We've always wanted to be part of the solution and we are providing solutions."
But Dr Victor Strasburger, an author of an American Academy of Pediatrics policy urging limits on marketing to children, said the study shows too little is being done.
"It's an amazing study and it's very sad," Strasburger said.
"Advertisers have tried to do exactly what this study is talking about - to brand younger and younger children, to instil in them an almost obsessional desire for a particular brand-name product," he said.
Just two of the 63 children studied said they had never eaten at McDonald's, and about one-third ate there at least weekly. Most recognised the McDonald's logo but it was mentioned to those who did not.If they didn't taste all of the foods then it's not much of a study, is it?
The study included three McDonald's menu items - hamburgers, chicken nuggets and French fries - and store-bought milk or juice and carrots. Children got two identical samples of each food on a tray, one in McDonald's wrappers or cups and the other in plain, unmarked packaging. The kids were asked if they tasted the same or if one was better. Some children did not taste all the foods.
McDonald's-labelled samples were the clear favourites. French fries were the biggest winner; almost 77 per cent said the labelled fries tasted best while only 13 per cent preferred the others.Correctamundo.
Fifty-four percent preferred McDonald's-wrapped carrots versus 23 per cent who liked the plain-wrapped sample.
The only results not statistically clear-cut involved the hamburgers, with 29 kids choosing McDonald's-wrapped burgers and 22 choosing the unmarked ones.
Fewer than one-fourth of the children said both samples of all foods tasted the same.
Pradeep Chintagunta, a University of Chicago marketing professor, said a fairer comparison might have gauged kids' preferences for the McDonald's label versus another familiar brand, such as Mickey Mouse.
"I don't think you can necessarily hold this against" McDonald's, he said, since the goal of marketing is to build familiarity and sell products.Yep, it is an unfair playing field and that's why indoctrinating kids with any political message is so profoundly wrong. That's what the Soviet Union did. The Nazis did. Cuba does. North Korea does. The first sign of a totalitarian mindset is thinking it's OK to indocrinate kids.
He noted that parents play a strong role in controlling food choices for children so young.
But Robinson argued that because young children are unaware of the persuasive intent of marketing, "it is an unfair playing field."