When Susan Connor noticed her 3 year old was humming the McDonald's jingle, the research manager for Cleveland's Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital decided to conduct a study. The study suggests that fast food companies are dominating television programming for toddlers. The study is published in the October issue of the journal Pediatrics.
The study found that messages for high-fat, high-sugar foods abounded on the child-targeted Nickelodeon specialty channel, the Disney Channel and on certain child-focused shows such as Sesame Street on the Public Broadcasting Service.
Both Disney and PBS, which promote their policy of ad-free programming, show corporate sponsor messages. Connor's study found that high-fat foods account for 82 per cent of sponsor messages on PBS preschool programming and 36 per cent on Disney's shows for toddlers.
"The majority of child-oriented food advertisements viewed seemed to take a branding approach, focusing on creating lifelong customers rather than generating immediate sales," the study noted. Connor also suggested that the advertisements adopted similar approaches, linking food with fun and happiness.