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Kids targeted by Fast Food Chains with Free Toys and Special Menus

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Kids targeted by Fast Food Chains with Free Toys and Special Menus

Fast food companies are in your child's brain - and you may not be aware how much. Concerning the parents, about 37 percent of them told the interviewers that after watching the TV ads they were inclined to visit those diners more often than other others.

Children's meals are promoted on TV with adverts featuring toys, and it has been suggested that this may prompt children to request eating at fast food restaurants.

"The more frequently a child viewed commercial TV that featured child-directed fast-food meal advertising, the greater the likelihood their family visited fast-food restaurants that marketed directly to children on TV at the time", the researchers wrote in their new paper, published in the Journal of Pediatrics

Researchers found that 79 percent of the child-directed ads came from just two fast food restaurants-Burger King and McDonald's-that aired on four children's networks. However, there was no link between a child's viewing of ad-free PBS TV viewing and the family's number of visits to the restaurants. The trend holds true for families with children who specifically request collecting toy freebies, a new study shows. About 54 percent of the time, kids had asked to be taken to the restaurant.

Researchers focused on ad-supported TV channels including Nickelodeon and Disney, whose burger-and-fries advertisers lure youngsters with kids meals and "premiums" such as Happy Meal toys.

Nearly 80 percent of the two restaurant chains' child-directed ads aired on those four children's networks, according to the researchers. 29 percent of the kids said they collected free toys, and out of those children, close to 83 percent asked to go to one of the restaurants or both. A few factors associated with more frequent visits were more TVs in the home, a TV in the child's bedroom, more time spent watching TV during the day, and more time spent watching one of the four children's networks airing the majority of child-directed ads.

 The same research group conducted another study. According to Jennifer Edmond, a professor at the Dartmouth College Geisel School of Medicine, cutting down on the number of commercials a child is exposed to will help them forget about fast food. Parents have been advised to switch their child from commercial-free TV programming in order to avoid frequent visits to fast-food chains.

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