Monday, November 22, 2010

Fast Food Ads Target Children

Researchers at the Rudd Center at Yale University have reported that one-third of children and teens eat fast food at least once a week. The Rudd Center compiled data over a one year period on 12 of the nation's fast food restaurants.

Teens get 16 percent to 17 percent of their calories from fast food restaurants. Of critical concern is the finding that teens order 800 to 1,000 calories in a single meal with 30 percent of those calories coming from saturated fat or sugar at those fast food restaurants. Those numbers represent about half of the recommended daily calorie intake.

Researchers reviewed 3,039 possible meal combinations designed for children such as the McDonald's Happy Meal and found that only 12 met the nutritional criteria for preschoolers and 15 met the nutritional recommendations for adolescents.

Subway and Burger King were the only restaurants offering those 12 - 15 meal combinations that would meet nutritional recommendations for children and adolescents. Meals included the Veggie DeLite at Subway and mac and cheese at Burger King.

Marketing plays a major role in increased consumption of fast foods. Surveys of parents reveal that 40 percent say their children ask to go to McDonald's a least once a week. A whopping 84 percent of those parents, in turn, had taken their children to a fast food restaurant in the previous week. Despite claims of reducing marketing to children, the Los Angeles Times reported from 2007 to 2009 preschoolers saw:

* 56% more ads for Subway
* 21 % more ads for McDonalds
* 9 % more ads for Burger King

Children ages 6 to 11 see even more ads:

* 56% more for Subway
* 26 % more for McDonalds's
* 10 % more for Burger King

For more information on this remarkable survey, see:

In Houston we are working to get more nutritional content on menus so people know what their ordering. You can check out our blog at

Stay Healthy this Holiday Season

They say that during the holiday season people are more likely to pack on the pounds than during other parts of the year. Treating yourself a little expected, but be careful of overindulgence. The American Heart Association would like to share with you our Nutrition Center.

You can go here for all types of information including healthy recipes, heart smart shopping, and things to consider when dining out. Learn more.