Filed Under: Food Police

The World Isn’t Flat?

Over 500 years after Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue, we have breaking news: the world is round. Meanwhile, at Reason, Baylen Linnekin relays another hot-off-the-presses study: kids can recognize the McDonalds logo better than the logo of FedEx. File this one under “Duh”:

The researchers claim kids rate logos of food companies like McDonald’s more “exciting” and “happier” than logos of non-food companies like BMW. 

“Food logos,” they conclude in SCAN, “seem to be more emotionally salient than the nonfood logos, perhaps due to the survival salience of food as a biological necessity.”

While that finding seems unremarkable, and—I would argue—appears to merit a similarly routine conclusion along the lines of Well, yes of course, the authors see the need for policies to combat this trend.

We’re with Linnekin in asking “So what?”

Is it really surprising that kids have a better response to one of most iconic logos in history than they would of a car company or a shipping service? Even if you want to ban certain advertising, as David Lazarus suggests, it’s doubtful that those figures will change—at least until more forth graders start driving their luxury cars to drop off legal documents for overnight delivery.

The problem, according to the study, is that the wrong food companies are effective at marketing.

“Research has shown children are more likely to choose those foods with familiar logos,” says Dr. Amanda Bruce, who led the study. “That is concerning, because the majority of foods marketed to children are unhealthy, calorifically dense foods high in sugars, fat and sodium.”

But as Linnekin notes, Bruce’s own research counters some of these arguments—notably, the idea that obese people, young and old, respond to all food imagery more so than the general population. Linnekin says,

So it’s not food logos (or ads) that’s the problem. Kids eat what their families feed them. In spite of the arguments of Bruce, Lazarus, and others, policy change in this area should begin—and end—at home.

Unless, of course, a 10-year-old takes his Beamer out for a spin.

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