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Fast-Food Logos Burned Into Pleasure Center of Children's Brains 322

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the run-for-the-border dept.
bbianca127 writes "A study has found that fast-food logos are branded into the minds of children at an early age, perhaps fueling the U.S.'s obesity epidemic. The study showed children 60 logos from popular food brands and 60 logos from popular non-food brands. Researchers found that, when shown images of fast-food brands, the parts of kids' brains linked with pleasure and appetite lit up. This is concerning because marketers tap into those portions of the brain long before children develop self-control, and most foods marketed to kids are high in calories, sugar, sodium, and fat."
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Fast-Food Logos Burned Into Pleasure Center of Children's Brains

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  • no self control (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chentiangemalc (1710624) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @01:17AM (#41460283) Homepage
    lets blame advertisers for poor parenting.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @01:34AM (#41460373)

    Or, maybe it was the glop that their parents made them eat at home that so enhanced the experience of the crap they got when they went out to McD's, Burger King, whatnot.

  • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @01:41AM (#41460417)
    From TFA

    The study, conducted at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Kansas Medical Center, selected 120 popular food and non-food brands, including McDonald's and Rice Krispies, and BMW and FedEx.

    Were there brands that kids would care about shown as well, or just brands that they happen to know? I don't really see FedEx lighting up the pleasure center in a kid's brain, but Toys'R'Us or Mattel might. Other listed logos from the study are the Target bulls-eye and the Energizer Bunny. I might expect the bunny to cause a little bit of pleasure, but the cuteness of bunnies is balanced with the boringness of batteries.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @01:44AM (#41460433)

    If you're "financially strapped" you have no business eating at McDonalds to begin with. You can eat far healthier and far cheaper food. I know because I just spent several years living well below the poverty line, and I couldn't have afforded to eat at McDonalds.

    And no amount of advertising can force you to buy something. It can let you know that thing exists, but you still get to make your own choice. Humans are not mindless drones. So yes, it is poor parenting, a failure to act in the best interests of their children. A 5 year old child does not get to McD's on his own nor does that child earn his own money to buy that crap food. This is not really debatable: there was a time when parents acted much more responsibly due to a difference in culture as opposed to today, and even though fast food was wildly available, people were far thinner then. Seeing someone obese was a rarity, not the norm as it is today.

  • by Genda (560240) <mariet@@@got...net> on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @01:54AM (#41460493) Journal

    Its neither. We are evolutionary survival machines, look at the things that our ancestors did to survive. They sought sugars, salts, protein and fat. Any combination of those things is literally guaranteed to addictive to a human being. We are bred literally to respond to that combination. So what do fast food restaurants do, they server us huge helpings of sugar, salt, protein and fat. These things have survival value. Sadly, they are also killing us. The ugly part is that people are getting rich pulling the trigger, knowing full well its a trigger.

  • by Genda (560240) <mariet@@@got...net> on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @02:09AM (#41460555) Journal

    I swear the public doesn't get it. For 70 years, advertisers have been doing double blind studies on how to control and manipulate you. They go for your conscious mind, they go for your unconscious mind, they assault your pleasure centers, they know what frequencies in what order trigger certain centers in your brain. They are aware of when to target you by common daily habits and schedules. In short advertizing is a science with a cutting edge that make a scalpel look like a blunt instrument. They go after your biology, culture, demographic, political views, religious beliefs, you social opinions. Its one of the reasons we now see sound bite instead of meaningful campaigns. That my friends if the work of Wall street advertising as applied by politics which has degenerated into just one more product being sold to semi comatose mouth breathing pubic.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @02:33AM (#41460671)

    Poor parenting? Are you serious? So the advertisers who have billions of dollars at their disposal to use
    science against kids, are not to blame?

    Actually they're using it against you, not your kids- your kids don't have any money. The association between pleasure and the company logo is formed because of the association of pleasure and the taste of the food. If you don't feed that slop to your kids, then it won't matter. If you're that worried about it, make a point of walking your kids past their dumpsters and fry oil vats behind the building every day, and pretty soon your kids will associate the "Golden Arches" with the smell of rotten meat and flies.

    health uninsured parent

    You obviously don't pay much attention to the news or politics.

    In this context that would be supernatual parenting.

    Bullshit. Get off your lazy ass and raise your kids. The amount of time and money you spend going to get McPuke burgers is more than you'd spend just frying up a few patties of ground lean on a whole wheat bun at home. But you don't want to do it, you don't feel like doing it, so instead you waste the gas to drive to the fast food place, sit in line, and order up some fat burgers. And don't forget to get the 24oz. jug of soda to wash it down, you know because that's so much easier than just giving your kids water (rolls eyes).

  • by SciCom Luke (2739317) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @02:37AM (#41460693)
    I always had the faint residual of an idea there is such a thing as 'parents' who come in to the picture when children are about to do something that is not good for them. That these carbon based lifeforms have a function of guiding children through early life, which includes warning them of marketing bastards and teaching them to think for themselves before they believe anything to see and hear and read. But that idea might be caused by social phenomena of the previous century...
  • by pinkushun (1467193) * on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @02:46AM (#41460749) Journal

    Yup, those sugary and fatty foods provided sustenance for those periods when food was scarcer, when your body relies on fatty deposits.

    Super markets eliminated the need to hunt for food interspersed with periods of shortages, but the latent craving for those sugary, fatty treats still remained.

  • by Krneki (1192201) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @03:31AM (#41460945)
    This is nothing short from mind hacking. There is only one way to beat them, don't watch commercials. Not an easy task though. This is why I stopped watch TV at age of 15 and thanks to adblock and similar addons I managed to remove them from my browsing experience.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @03:36AM (#41460965)

    And no amount of advertising can force you to buy something. It can let you know that thing exists, but you still get to make your own choice. Humans are not mindless drones.

    Advertizing influences us. We are social creatures who evolved to fit in with others. I garanty you - without any doubt whatsoever - that there are things you purchased that you would never have purchased without the advertizing. And if I asked you about it, you would have some sort of "reason" why you purchase that item - parroting much of the advertizer's "message".

    People make most of their decisions based on emotion. Very rarely do folks sit down and do a cost/benefit analysis, pros and cons, etc ... about a purchase - it takes too long. It's easier and more gratifying for that quick indulgence.

    The women who buy very large SUVs "because they have children and they need the space" - they have only 2. My parents got 3 kids around in a Chevy Vega. But these days people need gigantic light trucks for their TWO kids. Gee, I wonder what gave them that idea? Or let's look at the Mini in the States. When it first came out the advertizers had two very masculine men doing crazy shit with them. Why? They were afraid that the Mini would be considered a chick car like the Volkswagen Bug and the Porsche Boxster.

    And there's religion - the most manipulative thing ever created by man.

    No sir, we may not be mindless, but we sure are easily manipulated.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @03:36AM (#41460967)

    I believe that all you say is correct. Unfortunately, that also requires a lot of diligence and discipline from the parents. I have the impression that most folks are simply looking for an easy scapegoat:

    • It's the fast food advertising's fault.
    • It's the large drink size fault.
    • It's the soda can's fault.

    Until folks fess up and accept take the responsibility, and realize that they have to take the difficult road, this won't change. Someone or something else will always be the fault for their children's obesity.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @03:50AM (#41461027)

    I'd like to rephrase that a bit. No parent likes to be called a "poor parent", and all parents want to believe that they are doing the best for their children. However, the advertisers are a very powerful opponent. Parents need to view this as a challenge for them, that requires even more effort on their part, to achieve what is best for their children.

    Fast food advertisers will always find a way to wiggle around any attempt to limit their effectiveness. The challenge for parents will always be there. It's up to the parents to master this opponent.

    And, no, it is not simple and easy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @03:50AM (#41461035)

    I have always thought that exposure to fast food at an early age (perhaps due to mom and dad being perennially short of time to cook) implants a memory into kids of the taste of greasy fast food that sticks with them forever. Don't feed them this glop.

    Exactly. My Seven year old has NEVER eaten McDonalds or KFC. He once went to a birthday party at Burger King and still speaks about how horrible the food was. He has eaten Subway periodically and likes food from local non-chain restaurants but we have made a deliberate effort not to feed him this junk.

  • by jandersen (462034) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @03:56AM (#41461069)

    lets blame advertisers for poor parenting.

    Groan. Need I say more? *Groan*

    This sort of response has always been stupid, in my view, but with the amount of knoledge we now have about nutrition, how we become obese, how advertising influences people etc etc etc, it is staggerign that there are still this sort of uninformed opinions about.

    First of all, nobody is blaming it all on advertising - not least because there is a lot more going on than idiotic TV adverts. Like the fact that when you go to any shop (even so called health food shops) the ratio between sugary, fatty luxury snacks and appealing, genuinely healthy alternatives is something like one or two orders of magnitude, if I'm not much mistaken.

    And secondly, blaming it on poor parenting or "lack of self-control" is just too much like blaming the victim. People make poor choices because they are not really given any real alternatives. It is so easy to blurt things like "just pull yourself together" - but do you even know how to do this? Can you teach this skill to others? Are you able to help people overcome their moments of weakness? If you know and cared, you wouldn't say this kind of shit.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @04:11AM (#41461149) Journal

    That I rooted my android devices to install an ad-blocker. Works perfectly, ad-free.

    That I don't watch TV, or rather not broadcast TV. I download the TV-series I want, from torrent sites where I block the ads.

    I have multiple layers of web ad-blocking, priv-proxy, ad-blocker, ghostery and finally opera's own rather good content blocker.

    I use a government friend who has access to digests created from newspapers for polticians, ad free newspapers.

    I don't buy DVD's because of their forced ads.

    I don't use streaming services that display ads. Youtube is very easily manipulated to show zero ads.

    I have my groceries delivered so I don't have to go to the supermarket and deal with the visual bombardment created to get me to buy stuff I don't want.

    I do my tech shopping from pricewatch lists and real user reviews, so I don't have to deal with advertising on product sites and "pro" reviews sites whose product is paid for reviews.

    THAT is how effective advertisers have become. I didn't used to mind ads but over the last decade they have managed to stimulate my brain into a rabid hatred of even the tiniest exposure to advertising.

    And I am not alone. If advertising really worked, they wouldn't have to force it on us. The low point apparently happening in New York were kids were forced to watch commercials in exchange for school. It was a VPRO documentary so it probably was true (they are left-wing but to serious to make stuff up).

    Why do you think you can't skip the commercials on DVD's? Because the advertisers are confident you enjoy watching them and want the information? No, because advertisers know all their tricks are useless in persuading people to watch something they don't want to.

  • by slim (1652) <john@hartn u p .net> on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @05:35AM (#41461523) Homepage

    Hmm, on Monday I bought a pack of seasonal vegetables (carrot, swede, onion, parsnip) for £1.50 and a carton of value tomato juice for 65p. The soup will feed me for the rest of the week.

  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @05:58AM (#41461653) Homepage
    There are three professions where being untruthful is the key to success: Lawyers, salespeople, and advertising. All three are hired to portray their client in the most favorable light possible, and the very best ones lie through their teeth. The worst of these three are the advertisers because they have legions of psychologists and scientists trying to figure out the best way to lie to people.
  • by schroedingers_hat (2449186) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @05:59AM (#41461665)
    So you're saying we should bring the fast food home and use it to destroy all the kids favourite toys then send them to their room with no dinner?
  • by MrAngryForNoReason (711935) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @06:58AM (#41461939)

    Sun Q, Spiegelman D, van Dam RM, Holmes MD, Malik VS, Willett WC, and Hu FB. “White Rice, Brown Rice, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in US Men and Women. Archives of Internal Medicine. June 2010; 170(11):961-969.

    That is a study of the difference between white and brown rice and how they affect rates of type 2 diabetes in grown men. It doesn't mention anything to do with a connection between foods that infants are fed and their preferences later in life.

    When you make a statement like "There is good evidence" then you really need to be able to back that up with compelling evidence from a reliable source.

  • by thomasw_lrd (1203850) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @08:56AM (#41462767)

    Or we could just stop letting people blame their problems on others. Yeah, I'm fat. I know why I'm fat, I eat too much food. Do I care, yes. Enough to do anything about it, no. At some point every person has to take responsibility for their own choices.

  • by jythie (914043) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @09:26AM (#41463069)
    On the other hand, I think people get really uncomfortable with the idea that advertizing has the impact it does.. the idea makes them feel less in control of their lives so they underestimate how much other forces actually do sway them. We like to think we are above influence, but we are not, and marketers know we are not.

    This does not absolve us from personal responsibility, but it does mean we need to be more realistic about what effects us so we can take responsibility by working to limit or remove those influences.
  • by Dodgy G33za (1669772) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @10:15AM (#41463707)

    The problem is that people "like" it because it has been engineered that way. Imagine the design brief:

    1) make the food as addictive as possible
    2) make it as cheaply as possible

    And you get trans-fats, high fructose corn syrup, parmoline (aka tree lard) and all the other nasty things the food industry has come up with to make their business as profitable as possible.

    The problem with the average slashdot denizen is that they give far too much credit to the intelligence of the target audience of this crap. The truth is that half of them are too uneducated to know better (which is a problem with our society), and the other half are too interested in other things (which is a problem with other marketing).

    Now I know many on this site love the idea of a free market, but an unfettered market is not allowed in any country, for a very good reason.

  • by Dodgy G33za (1669772) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @10:22AM (#41463799)

    I went to the US once, and driving out of Omaha all I saw was suburb after suburb of 'chains'. Why anyone would even think of pulling off the highway to go to a donut outlet is beyond me.

    Here in Australia, 'normal' restaurants and cafes are the norm, and long may that be the case.

    Fight it guys. Fight it with every once of your spirit. I grew up thinking Americans believed in freedom. But what I see from your culture is homogenisation and the rule of the bland. Is that really what you want?

  • by Avatar8 (748465) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @12:56PM (#41465661)
    Dislike of fast food is not social conditioning.

    I grew up with home-cooked meals, not healthy but typical comfort food. Once I was old enough to cook for myself, most of my meals came out of the freezer and cardboard boxes. When I was old enough to drive, fast food joints were my primary source of food.

    I grew obese, developed a few health problems then met and married a woman who not only knows how to cook, but has recently learned to cook healthier food. I'm losing weight, all health issues are gone and I'm eating the best food I've every had in my life.

    Your analogy of a barbarian choosing between a burger and ethnic food is far off the target. Compare apples to apples. Given the choice between a McD/BK/W/whatever burger and a burger made with fresh beef, fresh vegetables and fresh baked bread, the barbarian will steer clear of the fast food one after one bite. (Actually, he'd probably eat both.)

    Food does not have to be fancy to be good. It should be fresh, healthy AND taste good. Fast food restaurants provide NONE of those factors.

    Try eating fresh food for a month, and you'll wretch at the thought of trying to eat a fast food burger, too. Don't try the "fast food is cheaper" argument either. It's been well documented that buying and preparing food is much cheaper than fast food, not only at the cash register but also at the doctor's office.

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