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

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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @01:08AM (#41460241)
    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.
  • by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @01:18AM (#41460291)

    There is good evidence that food preferences starts with the first solid food. Most infants (at least in the US) are started on white rice cereal and this has been shown to lead to a preference for high glycemic index foods (simple sugars and starches) leading to obesity. They have found that brown rice (low glycemic index) is much better.
    Much better to start with low glycemic index foods (and stay with them for life).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @01:22AM (#41460313)

    long before children develop self-control

    This is true, self control is something that develops slowly and isn't present in young children. This is why parents need to provide a substitute for that self control. When I was young my family ate every meal at home, from healthy home cooked food. We NEVER ate at fast food joints, and weren't exposed to fast food advertising. Surprise, now in late middle age (50) I am thinner and in better physical condition than 95% of the country. I've run up flights of steps and seen 20 year olds who can't keep up without wheezing and having to stop for breath.

    A whole generation of parents seems to have dropped the ball. I see children who eat every meal at McDonalds, and are obese by age 6. I see children who badly need exercise driven around by their parents for distances easily walkable. The parents are enabling this problem through lack of parental responsibility for their own children. This is not rocket science: if you eat twice as many calories per day as you burn, you're going to get fat. How did we get so stupid as a nation that we no longer understand this? It seems like whacking one's self on the thumb with a hammer, and wondering why it hurts... over and over and over, never learning that it's our own swinging of the hammer that hurts. Not all the advertising in the world can MAKE you go to McDonalds. You have to chose to do so. You are free to choose NOT to do so, and this is the choice I've made all my life.

    It's just... bewildering to see people make the opposite choice, eat several big macs per day coupled with massive high calorie sodas and large fries, and then bitch about getting fat. Stop doing that! If you're a parent, instil a sense of basic reality in your children, and don't feed them a diet of fast food when they're young enough to be dependent on you. It makes me sick to see so many parents hauling their 5 kids to fast food joints for every single meal.

  • Re:ORLY? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @01:42AM (#41460421)

    Compare logos of providers of "non-healthy" food to some healthy food - vegetables, fruits - then you'll have something to talk about, but I bet you'll find no difference.

    To find no difference, you'd need to compare them with logos of healthy food that comes with cheap plastic toys and a playground. I find my children quickly stopped asking to go to McDonalds when I started buying them a cheeseburger, chips and orange juice from the a-la-carte menu for taking out, instead of a "Happy Meal" and eating in and letting them use the playground there.

  • by Genda ( 560240 ) <mariet@goTIGERt.net minus cat> on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @02:15AM (#41460581) Journal

    Ta da!!! Superb call good sir! My friends, until they have pubic hair, NO TV. I know 5 different families whose kids never watched the tube before they were near the end of puberty. The outcome is striking. The kids are brighter, more well balanced, more socially mature, more responsible, more productive and better disciplined. I mean its shocking. I can't say that they are better because the parenting was better, or that the simple lack of TV made such an incredible difference, but it left me with the experience that TV is profoundly destructive to the developing human brain and should simply be eliminated from the childrens' intellectual diet.

  • Re:ORLY? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CubicleZombie ( 2590497 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @02:45AM (#41460743)
    I get annoyed with the "Mod parent up!" posts, but damn, that's insightful. Parent of a 12 week old here. I'll remember that.

    As a very young kid, I remember Mom taking me to McDonalds on the way to pick up my older brother from school. It was only for the playground. She never bought me any food there. And I always wanted fruits instead of candy at the grocery store. Guess she was onto something.
  • by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @03:02AM (#41460835) Homepage

    Yeah, it's not fast food. WhatEVER kids eat at an early age, that's why they'll enjoy for the rest of their lives. It's called "human culture". Fast food's got nothing to do with it.

    Liking fast food is essentially chemistry. Science (yay, science!) has basically figured out what tastes good on the human taste bud. Fast food supplies this. Sure, you gourmands out there will choke and puke at the thought of fast food, but that is purely social conditioning (the kind that intelligent people insist they're too smart to fall for). Take someone with no preconceptions, say a barbarian from a pre-modern society, and serve them two meals: one of a Big Mac and the other Thai-Burmese-Argentinian fusion or whatever is considered haute cuisine these days, and the barbie will pick the Big Mac every time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @03:28AM (#41460937)

    Indeed it should be forbidden to sell that stuff or at least advertise it. Kids are not allowed to drink alcohol so why are they allowed to eat food only based on these triggers. Beside that, they do not learn the wide variety of tastes food can have and they loose one portion of culture. Also they trained that eating is only for resupply of calories and other stuff relevant for the metabolism. However, that is normally called feeding. Humans developed culture and dishes and the art of eating them is part of the culture.

  • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @03:40AM (#41460993)

    I agree, but I think it is a wider issue than that. I remember, when growing up, I was always told to "eat up" and not waste food, even when I genuinely felt that I didn't want to eat more. This makes sense, of course, if you can't be sure when the next meal will be around, but it teaches us at an early age to override the signal to stop eating. That, in combination with the way we serve food in the West: a whole meal on a large plate, means that it is very easy to develop a habit of overeating.

    Perhaps we should learn from the Chinese: you put all the dishes in the middle of the table and eat out of small bowls; and you only take a little bit at a time, so you don't have to sit there, being full with half a meal on your plate, feeling that you must finish. And of course, the Chinese tend to integrate the leftovers in the next meal, so there is less food wasted overall.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @05:45AM (#41461579)

    Taste enhancer additives are the culprit. I remember when i was a kid, the one potato chips which was made by virtually a monopoly company in my (communist then) country tasted ... ordinary: salt, oil, crisp potato. Then, much later, a new company came with Western technology and it tasted ... like heaven! I always liked chips, but while 50 grams bag of old chips was more then I could eat alone, I couldn't satiate myself even with 200 grams of this new chips. The difference was, of course, the "secret" (not really ... just in small print) additive ingredient in the latter.

  • Diets and Genes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by andersh ( 229403 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @06:00AM (#41461667)

    Yes, it's very interesting, I only have a laymans understanding of the subject(s) involved. My degrees are all in other areas.

    What I have understood however is that the genetic component may be far more important than the diet itself for individuals. The Mediterranean diet may only work well for people with [that or] similar genetic makeup and/or environmental conditions (climate, eating patterns, etc). Consuming butter heavy, low carb diets (Ketogenic) has recently become a fad here in Scandinavia. It even lead to a butter "shortage" before Christmas due to our agricultural policy (protectionist/self-sufficiency).

    From what I have read and seen a lot of industrial food products in the US may have everything from trans-fats, [traces of] anti-biotics and growth hormones and frequently contains High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). The variation of products with corn derivatives is incredible, from beer to dry-wall! We know long-term consumption of HFCS leads to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats (triglycerides).

    That's why I'm thankful that HFCS is not common in food products here in Scandinavia, even our [non-light] sodas use real sugar. It may be part of the obesity problem, in addition to the lack of exercise.

    I remember reading one particularly interesting [American] study on the effects of poor nutrition, lack of healthy alternative food sources and polluted natural environments on the urban poor, and how it effectively locked them in poverty, poor health, low education, unemployment and crime. A cycle that is very hard to break. Think of all the money save and problems we could avoid in health care, welfare and crime prevention!

  • by YttriumOxide ( 837412 ) <yttriumoxNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @06:17AM (#41461771) Homepage Journal

    While I wouldn't call McDonald's "high quality" food anywhere, I do notice distinct quality difference in different countries.

    Their burgers in Australia and New Zealand tend to both be quite high quality, with good meat; fresh lettuce / salad parts; and fries that are recognisably made from potato. Here in Germany, the standard is somewhat lower; but still not so bad. France seems somewhat lower than here in Germany - bordering on "I'm not sure I want to eat that". And the UK is even lower at "I'm quite sure I don't want to eat that".
    For the absolute bottom of the scale though, the one time I ate McDonalds in the US, I was absolutely unable to eat more than a couple of bites due to the poor quality. The bun was literally sweet with the amount of sugar used in it; the meat was over-salted and tasted more like a beef/pork mix than pure beef (which is fine when it is really a mix, but when it is supposed to be beef, that's a bit of a concern); and the fries were more fat/oil than potato matter. Even the drink tasted syrupy and weird (I found that in bottled drinks there also though; so I'm assuming it's the difference between the HFCS based versions and the sugar-cane based versions that I'm used to)

    It might not always be like that there, and indeed may vary from state to state or store to store even; but that one time (which was at LAX airport for the record) has turned me off the idea of trying it there ever again.

  • by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @08:25AM (#41462453) Homepage
    Nope. I once took a 70 year old peasant farmer from China to KFC and he freaking loved it. The man had never been to a restaurant in his life. Seriously, his village was freaking medieval. Where do you get such bizarre ideas?

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller