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Joe Camel Redux: How Fast Food Is Marketed to Children

What's the Latest Development?

Savvy marketing strategies currently employed by quick service restaurants suggest the fast food industry is taking a page from Big Tobacco's playbook, according to a new study of television commercials produced by McDonalds and Burger King. The study observes specific tactics used to attract children to their products including advertising on children's television networks, displaying mascots and toys in children's commercials, as well as including more cross-promotions that plug products like children's movies. "Over a year, the researchers found that these ads were distributed over 81,272 placements on national television."

What's the Big Idea?

The researchers conclude that regulations designed to keep fast food chains from manipulating children are being violated, and that better enforcement of current rules is urgently needed in the fight against childhood obesity. While the Better Business Bureau has put forth a pledge by food manufacturers that they will "only feature food options that meet certain a nutrition criteria, and de-emphasize premium offers (e.g., toys) and support from promotional characters that may distract from the product at hand," the rules are voluntarily enforced, lacking the legal authority of the FDA or FTC.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at Scientific American

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