As childhood obesity continues to be a growing concern, public health campaigns seem to point the fingers at parents who aren’t providing their children with healthy nutrition options and bad examples of healthy eating. New research shows that the problem may be bigger than what parents feed their children. According to the study, fast food logos are branded in our children’s brains from an early age.
The center for disease control estimates that childhood obesity has tripled over the past 30 years, with the percentage of obese children between the ages of 6 and 11 having increase from 7% in 1980 to 20 % in 2008. Over the same period the percentage of obese adolescents between the ages of 12 to 19 years increased from 5% to 18%.
The study was conducted by the University of Kansas Medical center and the University of Missouri Kansas city. 60 children aged between 10 and 14 were shown 60 logos from popular brands such as BMW and Fedex and 60 more logos from popular food brands like KFC, Mc Donalds and Rice crispies.
Under MRI scanners, the children’s pleasure and appetite centers in their brains lit up when shown logos of fast food companies. This may not seem like such a big deal as it is a bodily response to feel hungry when talking about food, but scientists found that children were more inclined to pick a branded food rather than one with no logo.
When given a choice between a burger labeled with the McDonalds logo and one with no label, the children preferred the taste of the McDonald branded burger, regardless of the fact that the unbranded burger was from the same fast food company.
It is believed that the marketing tactics of fast food outlets tap into the children’s reward portion of the brain before they are able to develop self control. Food marketed for children is usually higher in sugar and caloric content.
Considering the children have not developed the necessary inhibitory processes to help in decision making, youth are susceptible to making bad choices when it comes to food.
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First published by MedicalDaily.com