08 August 2007

Children and food

I was reading Danielle's blog this morning and followed her link to this. It is an interesting study -- children as young as 3 appear to be influenced by branding.

Sixty-three children, ages 3 and 5, were given five foods to sample: chicken nuggets, a hamburger, french fries, baby carrots and milk. The first three foods all came from a McDonalds; the carrots and milk from a grocery store. All five food samples were split in half to be served in plain packaging and in McDonalds packaging. The foods were exactly the same, but the children thought the foods in the branded wrappers tasted better than those in plain wrappers.

So what? Well, something else I've read recently (and I can't remember the source or I would cite it) said that our children are subjected to one food commercial every five minutes. That works out to a possible three hours of food commercials each week. You can google that phrase and you will get 74 hits for that exact wording. You get about 1.85 million if you don't have the phrase in quotes.

I am not anti-fast food. We've eaten our fair share of it. (In fact, we've eaten enough of it that we gave up fast food for Lent -- and for those people who think that's not suffering, all I can say is you've never been in a van with four children who think a trip into town requires fast food.) Maybe as mothers it's time to rethink our approach to what our children learn about food and marketing. I will be.

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