Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Meal Makeover: How a Healthy Food Coalition Defeated a Fast Food Icon

On election day, while most of the nation was distracted with the mid-term election, another vote was taking place in San Francisco City Hall. The Board of Supervisors approved an ordinance to place limits—based on specific nutrition criteria—on how toys are marketed by restaurants in the city and county of San Francisco.

Most media accounts got the story wrong. The Los Angeles Times for example, called it a “Happy Meal ban.” (It’s true that, according to McDonald’s, none of the current Happy Meals meet the criteria, but that’s fixable.) The real story is, how did McDonald’s—the nation’s most beloved fast food brand—get so beat up?

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Commercialism Corner

Commercialism Corner: Your one-stop shop for quick summaries and links to all the latest news about the commercialization of childhood.

Some Preschool Kids Get Double Dose of Screen Time – Another study published in October shows that many preschools show hours of television to young children. Study author Dr. Pooja Tandon says that while there are some positives to educational programming for preschoolers, "Studies have found that the more screen time a young child is exposed to, the more they're at risk for a range of problems including language delays, learning issues, obesity, even aggression, possibly sleep problems.”

Report: Fast-Food Chains Increase Targeting Our Kids - Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity releases the "most comprehensive study of fast-food nutrition and marketing ever conducted,” finding that marketers have increased their child-targeted advertising: preschoolers see 21% more fast food ads and older children 34% more than in 2003. The study also finds that of 3,039 possible kids’ meals, only 12 meet nutritional criteria for preschoolers (15 for older children). Teens 13-17 purchase 800-1,100 calories in an average fast food meal—about half of their recommended daily calories. And a single meal at most fast-food restaurants contains at least half of young people’s recommended daily allowance of sodium. 40% of children aged 2-11 ask their parents to go to McDonald's at least once a week and 15% of preschoolers ask to go every day. Another troubling finding: fast food restaurants target minority children up to 50% more than white children.

Fast Food Restaurants Not Fighting Child Obesity – CBS Evening News with Katie Couric on the Yale study that finds that fast food restaurants are contributing to childhood obesity (despite claims to the opposite). CCFC’s Allen Kanner says, "The industry has been promising for years that it would do something about this…Self regulation is a trick, it's a farce, it's a joke."

Unplug, Turn Off and Reconnect – Referencing our friends at TRUCE, a Newburyport, MA Reverend makes a plea to parents: “This holiday season, take a careful look at your children's wish lists and consider how your toy and game purchases can help our kids build peace in our communities and beyond.”

Disney Junior to Focus on Social Values - Disney's new channel will focus less on an educational curriculum and more on teaching social values and behavior.

The Turf War for Tots – In a battle to captures preschoolers, “one of the most important demographics in television,” Disney is rehashing Disney Junior. The article covers Disney’s marketing plan and includes some troubling stats and quotes, including: “The sale of toys, books and DVDs for Nick Jr.'s ‘Dora the Explorer’ has generated more than $11 billion in sales globally since 2002, Nickelodeon says. The value of future brand loyalty is incalculable,” and “For Disney, preschool is an entry point to the entire brand—from DVDs, theme parks and plush toys to Pixar movies and older-skewing Disney Channel series like ‘The Wizards of Waverly Place.’”
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Commercialism Corner

Commercialism Corner: Your one-stop shop for quick summaries and links to all the latest news about the commercialization of childhood.

'Educational' DVDs Don't Expand Baby Vocabulary: Study – Yet another study finds that toddlers exposed to DVDs marketed as “educational” show no greater improvement in their vocabulary than young children not exposed to such content. The researchers found that babies learn best doing everyday activities, without exposure to videos.

San Francisco Bans Happy Meals – Standing up for children's health and against fast food giants, San Francisco rules that restaurants may no longer target children with toy giveaways for meals high in sugar, calories and fat.,0,5438230.story

Supreme Court To Hear Violent Video Game Case - The Supreme Court will rule on California's effort to prohibit the sale or rental of video games that give players the option of "killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being" to children and teens under 18.

Kids' Use of Electronic Media at Night Linked to Problems – A preliminary study suggests that over half of children who use electronic media at night may suffer from learning or mood problems during the day.

The Hub and Toy Company Enter Partnership Deal for “Hubworld” – The new Hasbro/Discovery children’s network “The Hub” and WowWee, a toy entertainment company, enter into a sponsorship deal for the launch of The Hub’s weekly so-called magazine series, Hubworld, for co-branded content.

Redken Video Game Beckons Girls to Hair Salons - Redken, a hairstyling products brand that is owned by L’Oréal and sold only in salons, creates a new hairstyling Wii video game for girls, with integrated product placement for the brand.

Moshi Monsters Bolsters Merch Program – Licensing partners eager to target children with marketing for their products are flocking to Moshi Monsters, a popular children’s virtual world with more than 30 million members worldwide.

Is Your Child Watching Too Much TV? The authors of this article outline the American Academy of Pediatrics' guidelines on children's media use and summarize related research to help parents understand the effects of screen time and limit children's media use.
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