fast food(11 Posts)
hi, im a student at university doing my dissertation on fast food and advertising to children. Any views from you as parents about advertising junk food to children, and also any issues around junk food in general that i can use to help my arguments would be much appreciated.
There is alot of discussion around at the minute about the apparent obesity epidemic in the UK. Do u think that Junk food is a big problem with regards to this, and how do you think advertising affects the opinions of food of your children?
Also, do you eat McDonalds yourself? Particularly with the appearance of a new "healthier" menu.
I am sure you will get a lot of response to this. I have a 3yo ds who is just getting to grips with pester power and can recognise brands on the shelves. I have a lot of trouble with kids cereals as he wants to get a box with a tiger on even though he will only eat weetabix. We buy and throw away a lot of junk food because I am weak. If he watches NickJr he will sing macdonalds adverts all week and he does like a happy meal once in a while as he likes the toys. I am not a macdonalds fan.
I just don't let my 3y5m DS see adverts. He essentially doesn't watch telly, just very occassional DVDs. I also mostly shop on the net, so he doesn't know there are, say, Incredibles fromage frais, so he can't demand them!
This sort of thing isn't why I keep him away from telly, but it certainly contributes. His favourite foods are sweetcorn, sugar snap peas, sausages, squid, that sort of thing.
And no, I don't eat at McDonalds, I last had a coffee there about 10 years ago. Nandos is the only fast food place I ever go to these days.
I think any advertising for children (especially on children's tv) should be banned. I don't let mine watch it. I record programmes on Nick jr. to avoid it. We eat healthily in our family, but occasionally we go to McDonalds. Everything in moderation.
I am really excited about the new Jamie Oliver project where he tackles school dinners!
I live in Ireland and the same sorts of problems are here: obesity and people eating cash-rich, time-poor meal solutions like fast food, ready meals and "kids" foods full of sugar and salt. We very rarely eat at McDonalds, but a lot of the "family" restaurants are just as bad; TGI Fridays kids menu for example is just hot dogs or burgers and chips. We ate there on Saturday as a treat and my 2 year old gobbled up his smiley-face potato shapes. I was then tempted to buy them frozen in the supermarket next day but I resisted! I know a lot of mums who buy a lot more processed/frozen food than we do, character yogurts, tinned Bob pasta etc. I really make an effort to cook proper meals and don't usually do the shopping with my toddler. He does watch Nick Jr. in the evenings and I'm dreading the day when he asks for McDonalds food because of the toys, there's a Pooh promotion on at the moment. But I noticed from the ad you can just buy the toys separately now, you don't have to buy a happy meal. I do like McDonalds now and then and the new chicken sandwiches are nice, though I don't know how healthy they are! The fruit they offer instead of fries is awful, the apples are inevitably sour because they must be treated with some kind of acid to stop them turning brown. You may as well have the fries!
My kids watch TV and know about the products that are targeted to children. I don't usually take them shopping, so these foods don't get bought. Even if I do have a child with me, they don't kick up a fuss when I say no.
The main processed food group that they get a say in is cereal. I usually buy them whatever they like (non-Nestlé) unless it's blatant sugarfest, as I figure that one meal a day isn't going to be a disaster for them. Saying that, they are fairly happy with Weetabix.
I'm not 100% sure of what they get at school, but I think the schools are trying now. At primary, they don't get chips, but I think they do have a lot of chicken nuggets, pizza etc. Whatever they have, the kids always come home starving, so they are using up more energy than they take in.
They can snack as much as they like at home, but this means a piece of fruit or a sandwich. I don't buy biscuits or crisps.
We go to McDonalds (because I'm tired, or been useless with my shopping) maybe once a month, and I still get a Big Mac for myself. Again, I don't think this is harmful.
What concerns me about McDonalds is they tell children that they have healthy options (fruit, salads) in such a way that children associate the McDonalds brand name with healthy food.
I have a nearly 4 year old and whilst we don't have any problems with "pester power" for specific food products (e.g. cheese strings, monster munch) I was very angry recently when her school teachers described her healthy lunch as "weird" in front of her. Apparently if you don't send them in with Dairylea lunchables and jaffa cakes you're depriving them!
DD has eaten fast food, mainly at motorway service stations, but if given a choice of where to go for lunch, if out shopping for example, she never opts for a fast-food joint. She has seen the adverts but we don't watch ITV or have Nick Jr so her exposure to advertising is probably tiny compared to many kids her age.
Agree with Ameriscot that many of the "kids meals" at "family restaurants" ae no better than McDs. We tend to stick to ethnic food restaurants where possible.
We don't go to McDs because even if it is (supposedly) healthier now, it doesn't change the fact that the restaurants are dirty and smelly and basically unpleasnat to be in!
We do a lot of baking at home so she gets her fair share of sweet treats (again DH and i have a sweet tooth, so all our fault) but she knows that too much isn't a good idea.
I tell my kids that it is junk. I did buy dd1 cheese strings once and luckily she hated them.
Don't get me started on Macd's. We do go there occassionally - probably twice a year. I think it smells and looks gross, but they like the toys in the Fatty Meals. Both hate burgers anyway but they eat those deep fried bums and eyelids.
I agree that kid's meals everywhere are generally rubbish. DS1 has had one kid's meal, once in a Chilli's, and it was dreadful, and he wouldn't eat it. We've not ordered a kid's meal since. I do not buy any "kid's" food. He eats Weetabix or muesli for breakfast. He eats organic "adult" yogurts, mixed with plain yogurt to make them less sweet - I eat yogurt the same way.
We went out for Italian food on Sunday, in Greenwich. He ate spaghetti with clams, and some of his dad's squid, and some of his dad's prawn cocktail. We just all eat the same food, all the time.
Oh god, I could bore for England on this subject pestefer! I assume you've read Fast Food Nation?
I think all advertising to children under the age of about 10 should be banned. It works, no doubt about it otherwise the companies concerned wouldn't do it. Oooh, I haven't got much time to go on about it now but will happily write more tomorrow if I can. My vegetarian son asked me once if we could go to Burger King (I doubt he even really knew what Burger King was tbh) because they were giving away Beyblades. He was about 5 at the time and of course I said no. I don't eat McDonalds (have done in the past but it was always very rare!) and won't be doing in the future. Neither will my children while I have any control over what they eat. Have you seen The Parents Jury site? They're part of The Food Commission, you might find some of their stuff useful. What else do you specifically want to know? Happy to answer anything here or offline.
Oh and my son has very, very little say in what I buy (dd is too young, only 14 months). He's mostly not there when I shop but even when he was I would only very rarely give in to any kind of pester power amd he knows it. But I did/do, sometimes, and I consider myself a particularly stroppy anti junk consumer! I buy 99% organic non processed food, i.e. fruit, veg, beans, bread although my children do get pizza sometimes from The Big Little Organic Co or Pizza Express. I hardly ever buy crisps or biscuits or cakes and never have done really. I do make sweet things sometimes but then I know there's no hydrogenated fat or any other nasties in them. I think the odd bar of chocolate is a good thing but again, I'd prefer that it was a decent organic make.
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