Fast-food restaurants are stepping up efforts to market themselves and unhealthy food products to children and toddlers with television ads, websites and even their own menus, researchers said on Monday.
They said efforts by the industry to regulate itself have failed and urged government officials at all levels to declare children a protected group and stop marketing efforts that are fueling child obesity, a serious U.S. health problem.
“What we found in the marketing data is a staggering amount of fast-food advertising that starts when children are as young as 2 years old,” Jennifer Harris of the Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity in Connecticut told a telephone briefing.
Harris and colleagues spent a year studying 12 big fast-food chains, analyzed the calories, fat, sugar and sodium in menu items and kids’ meal combinations, and studied what children and teens ordered.
Full story: Fast-food restaurants target kids, study shows