Well, it finally happened. My son went to McDonald’s for the first time this weekend.
My wife and I like to divide to conquer our kids when they get riled up, so while I did groceries with our youngest, she did some shopping with our oldest. She got noshy, craved a Big Mac, and brought our son along where he immediately requested the Happy Meal with the Power Ranger.
As they sat down to a Mother-Son lunch, he played with his toy, and had a few fries. That was it. His first foray to McDonald’s didn’t cultivate an appetite for sugar, fat, and salt – it was a hook baited with a toy. Exactly how they planned it.
After the jump, the details on a survey that says kids don’t like the junk food, they like the toys.
The Canadian Journal of Public Health published the study from The University of Waterloo looking at the effect premium toys have on meal decisions with kids.
The study was done with 330 kids at a summer day camp. Each day at lunch, the kids were divided in to 2 groups and asked to pick Happy Meals from an order form. The kids were randomly assigned to one of two groups and then offered 4 meals to choose for lunch.
In one group, two of the meals were healthier and came with a toy, while the less nutritious options were just the meal. The other group had the same meals to choose from, all including a toy.
The study discovered the children in the group with toy options were more likely to choose the meal with a toy.
“Overall, our findings suggest that toys have a strong influence on children’s food choices,” said Erin Hobin, a postdoctoral fellow in the school of public health at Ontario’s University of Waterloo. “And actually, we also found that the toys have a stronger influence on boys than girls.”
So perhaps San Francisco’s ban on toys with meals should be adjusted a little. Use the toys to bait the healthy choices, and keep them away from the salty stuff.
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