This week, two articles regarding studies focused on children caught my attention because they highlighted everyday activities in children’s lives in America, fast food and TV/video. The Los Angeles Times’ headlines were: “Kids prefer McDonald’s-wrapped food, study finds” and “Baby Einstein': a bright idea?”
The fast food branding study in the first article, (Effects of Fast Food Branding on Young Children’s Taste Preferences), included 63 lower-income preschool children aged 3.5 to 5.4 years of age.
The study noted that the "children tasted 5 pairs of identical foods and beverages in packages from McDonald's and matched but unbranded packaging and were asked to indicate if they tasted the same or if one tasted better."
The hypothesis for this study was that the "children would express no preference."
The study results indicated that "children preferred the tastes of food and drinks if they thought they were from McDonald's."
The study noted that the effect was greater the more TVs in the child’s home and the more frequently the family reported eating food from McDonald’s.
The report also noted that there were 2.4 TVs per home and 57% of the children had a TV in their bedroom.
My guess is that most parents would have been able to tell you without the study that, yes; children do prefer food that they have seen advertised. Of course advertising works, that’s why companies advertise. The study states that the food and beverage industry spends more than $10 billion per year to market to children in the United States.