Fast food and children

Today‘s stressful and quicker way of life caused that people talk, walk, drive and also eat much faster. Therefore a lot of people search for a quick way to get food and they thrive in fast food restaurants. It is needless to mention the most famous one. How many people would not know McDonald’s? Probably very few people. Its restaurants are spread almost all over the word. Most people know how unhealthy food McDonald’s offers and that they should avoid these meals – yes, people should be at least aware of stuff like that. However this essay will be focused on a much bigger issue – children vs.

McDonald’s. It means, how can McDonald’s impact on children‘s values because they in most cases have no sense of it, and it is partly responsible for children‘s obesity. There is no surprise that the number of obese children rises year by year. And eating in fast foods such as McDonald’s is considered to be one of the potential causes. Morgan Spurlock focused on American children: “Obesity rates in American children … began to climb in the 1970s. In the past 20 years, the rate of obesity has doubled in children and trebled in teenagers. Unfortunately this is not happening only in America. You can very often read or hear news about this increase in other countries, such as China, Australia. Eating high-calorie food goes hand in hand with lack of exercises. There is no doubt that in such cases parents should have been more careful regarding their children‘s health and life style. Parents have a great responsibility to teach their children how to eat. It will reflect their future life – if they will suffer from some diseases according to bad eating habits from childhood or not.

Children at a young age do not distinguish the difference between what is healthy and what is not, until their mum or dad learn them to recognize the difference. So why still some parents lead their children to McDonald’s even they know how dangerous it could be? Well the McDonald’s restaurants try to look like the idyllic family restaurant, and it really works. Parents take their children for breakfast, lunch, dinner, sometimes not only once a day. Spurlock experienced interesting facts, while doing the `Super Size Me` research for the same called movie.

He mentioned that “[he] couldn’t get over how many kids there were in the restaurants almost any time that [he] walked in. Children with their parents. … Kids in all the play areas. …“ The most important issue which might change this attitude stands on their parents position. They should change their minds because of the responsibility. Furthermore they should set some rules and try to convince children that McDonald‘s food is junk and learn them to have a certain attitude to the threath of unhealthy food. Let’s try to figure out why is McDonald’s so popular among children.

The company does not hide its intention to target children and moreover they have great marketing plan developed. “McDonald’s marketing to children extends beyond television commercials, kid-friendly websites, toys and playgrounds. “ They are willing to spend large sums of money for well-target advertising. And that is the point – what influences children most of all? The commercials on TV and nowadays also ads on the internet. McDonald’s advertising affects children’s senses, the TV spots are often colorful, funny and convince children to try the taste of their products.

Kids then believe the advertisement and expect the taste which was promised. Moreover an important role plays Ronald McDonald – the red-haired clown representing the brand. Zoe Meleo-Erwin noted in her article “Ronald McDonald, the face of McDonald’s, is a symbol of the corporation’s dedication to reaching young customers. The only fictional character with a higher degree of name recognition by children is Santa Claus. “ There you can see how Ronald is popular among kids. His job is to entertain children and he also appears on the commercials, convincing these innocent creatures to taste burgers from McDonald’s.

Therefore children find going to McDonald’s so funny, they do not care about the food (it just taste them) but the entertainment is the main attraction. McDonald’s combines both. That includes also playgrounds which were established to indulged children fun. The playgrounds could be found in each restaurant, where can mostly little girls and boys gambol. They find it funny which really is except the food they are going to eat after the game. The special menu, which McDonald’s offers to children is called `Happy Meal`.

It is served since 1979 and the popularity is based on a toy included in the box, which is in many cases inspired by some movie or serial characters. “In addition, McDonald’s develops strategic partnerships, sponsorships, character licensing agreements and endorsements with celebrities and corporations such as NBA stars, Disney, the Fox Kids Network, DreamWorks and the Olympics. “ Children start to be fond of or sometimes possessed with collecting each of the toys and that often results in desire to go more frequently to McDonald‘s.

A lot of small children love surprise and Happy Meal provides it to them. The conclusion is simple – if the fast food companies add a toy inside the box with meal there is a big probability that children will hunger for these products. According to research carried out at Standford University, children are much more interested in food packed in McDonald’s colors, decorated with the cartoon characters. The researchers put two same samples of meal – one packed in golden arches, the other in ordinary package.

Consequently the research discovered that “The ‘McDonald’s’ fries were judged tastiest by six times as many children as found the plain packaged chips the most appetising. “ Here we can see how kids are affected by the advertisements. Nonetheless children cannot help themselves, it is a duty of parents again to avoid obsession and addiction to McDonald’s. Both interesting and controversial provision appeared in California strictly speaking in its county Santa Clara. This spring “County officials vote to ban toys and other promotions that restaurants offer with high-calorie children’s meals. It really looks like bad day for McDonald’s‘ Happy Meals, but it “may lead to many happier ones for all those kids who might now have a better shot at growing up with healthier eating habits. “ Brian Merchant, the author of the article shares my view, that the decision to withdraw the offer of high-calorie food for children is a great idea. He also thinks that in most cases the toys make children to long for Happy Meal. There’s no doubt that “… the toys are a powerful lure for children …“, kids simply cannot resist the temptation of surprise.

While his opponent argued that “it would be better to ban the advertising of unhealthy foods to kids in general, as opposed to just eliminating existing products. “ What would be solved by banning the advertising only? The children have already known the brand and they probably would not stop visiting McDonald’s only by virtue of banning ads. And in addition I think the officials do not have such authority (to control advertisements), it might be organized by some state department. It might be surprising, that it is not always only mistake of parents. Food serving in some schools has also a share in it.

In the ‘Super Size Me’ movie which was mentioned above one can see, how it works in some school canteens. There can children get meals by self-service, and in many cases they just grab some chips, burger or pizza and coke for drink. Even the teachers who should have some kind of responsibility and should supervise children do not control them and let them eat what they choose, even if it is not very healthy. In such case it could seem that it is useless, when parents try to learn children not to eat junk food in McDonald’s or another fast food restaurant and then such kind of unhealthy food is served in schools.

In that cases when the schools are independent they should set some rules about eating or they are close to raise squabs. To sum up the relationship between McDonald’s and children I would say that it is kind of strong bond. The company probably could not work without children, because they have ever been the most influenceable target group for McDonald’s and in addition the company gets good money from them. On the other hand some children are fond of having McDonald’s around when it somehow becomes a part of their life.

As far as McDonald’s advertising is concerned it is almost impossible to such cancel or erase all McDonald’s ads focusing on kids. They should rather use them to promote some healthier food. Their ads are extremely effective and affecting therefore it could convince children as in the case of the unhealthy diet. That seems like a good advantage for the company to show they are not uninterested to the issue of children‘s obesity. Anyway the most important assumption which might change the rising number of obese children will always depend on their parent’s minds and attitudes.

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