According to a recent study, kid-directed TV ads for fast-food work just as they were supposed to. With 37 percent of parents reporting that they visited more often the restaurants that marketed fast-food to their children on dedicated TV channels, kids’ meal ads coax entire families into dining out at fast-food restaurants.
Past research revealed that a U.S. kid under age 9 watches TV for 35 hours per week. But in the meantime, kids are exposed to myriad of commercials of which many are directed at them.
Researchers also found that 50 percent of ads are about food. A recent study from the University of Minnesota showed that children watch on average a dozen food-related ads every day. This means that they are exposed to more than 4,300 ads every year.
And there is a growing concern that kid-directed fast-food ads are as bad as tobacco commercials using cartoons in the late 90s. Since small kids are very gullible, TV ads may entice them into fast-food. And fast-food along with lack of physical activity had been tied to the U.S. obesity epidemic by a plethora of studies.
The new study suggests that child-directed fast-food ads are so powerful that kid meal ads coax entire families into dining out at fast-food restaurants more frequently. Researchers at Dartmouth University’s Geisel School of Medicine analyzed all 2009 fast-food commercials directed at kids paid for by Burger King and McDonald’s.
The study showed that 79 percent of the ads were aired on children TV channels.
In their research, study investigators surveyed 100 kids and their families. The average age of kids was five. Parents were asked whether their kids were frequent viewers of the reviewed TV channels, whether their kids pressured them into visiting the two restaurant chains, whether their kids planned to collect toys from kids’ meals, and whether they brought other family members along at restaurants and how frequent the visits were.
Fifty-four percent of kids asked their parents to take them to one of the said restaurant chains. About 30 percent of kids collected the toys they saw on TV. Of the kids that collected toys, 83 percent wanted to (re)visit one or both restaurants. About 37 percent of parents admitted that their trips to the two restaurant chains were more frequent due to the ads.
But as parents took other members of the family with them when dining out, study data suggests that child-directed fast-food ads have a huge influence on entire families. And the most popular and effective TV ads are those involving toys, researchers noted.
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