Australia's television standards board is considering a ban on fast food advertising during children's television shows.
A Canadian op/ed today calls for the same thing. They quote a study that claims eliminating fast food television advertising "would cut the number of overweight children (ages 3 to 11) by 10 per cent and the number of overweight adolescents (ages 12 to 18) by 12 per cent."
Some fast food restaurants do market directly to children; kid's meals and the included toys are an example of this. In fact McDonald's, for many years, has focused its marketing strategy on kids in an effort to create 'customers for life.' (Read Fast Food Nation for more on that.)
As a result, I'm sure a ban on fast food advertising to children would cut down on their consumption of fast food, but wouldn't it be better if parents controlled what their kids eat instead of the government? Parents should know what their kids are eating, and they should educate their children about the benefits of good nutrition and the dangers of 'bad foods.' Eliminating advertising would cut down on awareness but not availability, so teaching kids about smart food choices is the most direct and comprehensive path to healthier kids.