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Friday, October 7, 2011

Parents Can't Keep Kids from Eating Junk Food, Study Finds

Posted By on Fri, Oct 7, 2011 at 3:24 PM

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San Francisco made itself the object of national attention last year with city legislators' decision to ban McDonald's from serving Happy Meals. The ordinance, intended to promote healthful eating decisions among children by stripping the fast-food behemoth of one of its most effective marketing tools, led to derision from pundits across the country, including a humiliating turn on the Daily Show by the ban's author, Supervisor Eric Mar. (See above.)

Unfortunately, a new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics suggests that such intervention by well-meaning adults could be for naught.

The study evaluated the effect that commercials for French fries and apple slices -- yes, the apple commercial must have been pretty lame -- had on young children's food choices. Among those shown the commercial for fries, 71 percent chose a coupon for fries afterward. Additionally, some 46 percent of the kids who were shown a commercial for apple slices still chose the fries coupon.

Parents' scolding seemed to have some effect, but not as much as you might think. About 55 percent of kids who were shown the fries commercial and then urged not to eat junk food by their parents still chose fries.

Is the takeaway from this study that our children are doomed to lives of Super-sized ill health? Who knows, but maybe it's time for San Francisco's Board of Supervisors to start thinking about a ban on fast-food commercials.

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Peter Jamison

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