Last week, a few of you questioned my endorsement of a new arrangement between the Sesame Street Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association in which Sesame Street characters will be used to market fresh fruits and vegetables to children. There’s an understandable concern that kids, because they are uniquely impressionable, should not be manipulated in that fashion — even when the only result will be improved dietary health.
As I’ve said here before, in an ideal world kids wouldn’t be the target of any marketing. But for a sobering reality check on just how far we are from that ideal, I wanted to share with you a new report issued last week by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity regarding the fast food industry’s targeting of kids.
According to the report, in 2012 the fast food industry spent a staggering $4.6 billion to reach children and teens and, not surprisingly, the majority of those marketing efforts promoted unhealthy foods and beverages.
Here’s one set of particularly troubling findings from the report that caught my eye:
. . . McDonald’s . . . spent 2.7 times as much to advertise its products ($972 million) as all fruit, vegetable, bottled water, and milk advertisers combined ($367 million). On average, U.S. preschoolers viewed 2.8 fast food ads on TV every day in 2012, children (6-11 years) viewed 3.2 ads per day, and teens viewed 4.8 ads per day. Six companies were responsible for more than 70% of all TV ads viewed by children and teens: McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King, Domino’s, Yum! Brands (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC), and Wendy’s.
I encourage you to read the entire report here.
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