A new study by researchers at Stanford University shows that fast food branding affects the taste preferences of preschoolers.
3- to 5-year-old children from low-income families were given pairs of five identical foods and drinks and asked to indicate if which, if any, tasted better.
The children consistently reported preferring the foods and drinks in packaging form McDonald’s over those presented to them in unbranded packaging. This was the case even if the food or drink tasted was not on the McDonald’s menu.
The effect of branding was found to be greater in those children who had more television sets on their homes and those who ate McDonald’s food more often.
The findings support the recent recommendations of the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for tackling the obesity epidemic: that marketing of high-calorie, low-nutrient food should be regulated or banned altogther.
Robinson, T. N., et al. (2007). Effects of fast food branding on young childrens’ taste preferences. Arch. Pediatr. Adolesc. Med. 161: 792-797. [Full text]