(NEW YORK) — Since 1974, the Better Business Bureau has maintained a set of marketing guidelines that urge fast food companies to exercise a level of restraint when marketing food to kids, meaning they ought to focus on foods themselves rather than toy and movie tie-ins, and emphasize healthy menu options. So how have they been doing? A new report, published in PLoS One, suggests that these companies are falling short — particularly McDonald’s and Burger King, who are the overwhelming leaders in marketing fast food to kids.
Researchers looked at 92 ads from these restaurants that were aimed at kids, and they found that 69 percent of all of the ads contained toy premiums, and entertainment cross-promotions were present in 55 percent of ads. On the positive side, healthy foods appeared in 78 percent of these ads.
But the researchers say that the emphasis on tie-ins and toys in these advertisements are powerful enticements that get kids to urge their parents to buy them more fast food. They also say that this continued practice shows that these companies are poor at policing themselves when it comes to advertising to kids.
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Kevin Conlon, Euan McKirdy and Johanzynn Gatewood, CNN
Susan Scutti, CNN
Heather Simonsen, KSL.com