The Basic Inescapability of Fast Food for Kids

The fast food industry cares about the health of your kids. That's why the fast food industry is self-regulating when it comes to marketing their meat-poison to children. And self-regulation always works. That's why kids are still eating tons of fast food.

A new report from Yale's Rudd Center on fast food marketing and consumption says that despite some changes at fast food chains over the past three years—healthier kids menu offerings, decreased marketing to kids by some chains—the overall situation is still one in which young people are saturated with fast food advertising. Progress is only being made by some restaurants, in some areas, with some groups of consumers. Ad Age notes that McDonald's, the biggest player in fast food, runs more TV advertising targeting kids than targeting either teens or adults. Also, "African-American kids and teens see 60% more fast-food ads than white kids the same age."

Other noteworthy findings from the report:

-"More than one-third of youth consumed fast food on the previous day, including 33% of children (ages 2-11) and 41% of teens (ages 12-19)."

-"When visiting fast food restaurants, the majority of children and teens order regular menu items, combo meals, and/or value menu items. At burger restaurants, only 44% of children under 6 and 31% of children ages 6 to 12 receive a kids’ meal."

-"In 2012, fast food restaurants spent $4.6 billion in total on all advertising, an 8% increase over 2009. For context, the biggest advertiser, McDonald’s, spent 2.7 times as much to advertise its products ($972 million) as all fruit, vegetable, bottled water, and milk advertisers combined ($367 million)."

-"Despite the decline in TV advertising to 6- to 11-year-olds [since 2009], advertising to very young children (ages 2-5) did not change from 2009 to 2012, and the majority of fast food restaurants stepped up their TV advertising to children. Among the top 25 advertisers, 19 increased advertising to preschoolers, and 14 increased ads to older children."

The study also notes that "less than 1% of all kids’ meal combinations met recommended nutrition standards" for "healthy" meals for children.

Don't fight it. Just get them kids some fries. We all die sooner or later.

[The full report. Photo: Flickr]