Fast-food companies have increased their marketing to young consumers.

Just as the San Francisco Board of Supervisors agreed to ban Happy Meal toys from unhealthy kid's meals, the Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity released a study pointing the finger at America's fast-food companies for ignoring issues of childhood obesity, and their role in the epidemic.

In what is being called the "most comprehensive study of fast-food nutrition and marketing ever conducted." researchers studied marketing efforts of 12 of the nation's largest fast-food chains, and examined the calories, fat, sugar and sodium in more than 3,000 kids' meal combinations and 2,781 menu items.

The result: over time, fast-food companies have increased their marketing to young consumers.

"Despite pledges to improve their marketing practices, fast-food companies seem to be stepping up their efforts to target kids," said Jennifer L. Harris, the report's lead researcher. "Today, preschoolers see 21 percent more fast-food ads on TV than they saw in 2003, and somewhat older children see 34 percent more."

McDonald's spokesperson Neil Golden said this morning that the company "remains committed to responsible marketing practices ... and ... to offering our customers a wide variety of quality food and beverage choices that meet their dietary needs and tastes -- including fruit, juice and dairy options in our Happy Meals."

Source: AOL

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