4308.0 Fast Food Menus, Marketing, and Public Policy: Can We Get Children and Adolescents to Eat Healthy?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012: 2:30 PM - 4:00 PM
Purpose: Discuss the health implications of what fast food companies are marketing and selling, particularly to children and adolescents. Hear what the restaurant industry is doing to increase healthy eating. Introduce legal and policy tools to improve the foods and beverages purchased by, or for, children at fast food restaurants. Children and adolescents who eat fast food consume more calories, fat, sugar, and sugary beverages; and less fiber, fruits, and vegetables. Additionally, most studies, but not all, have shown a positive relationship between eating fast food and weight gain or obesity. Adolescents ate 21.5% of their meals out in the mid-1990s, compared to only 6.2% in the mid-1970s. A 2010 analysis by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity of children’s meals at 12 of the nation’s largest fast food chain restaurants found that of 3039 possible meal combinations, only 12 met nutrition criteria for preschoolers and only 15 for older children. In addition, fast food meals for children and adolescents are often paired with toy giveaways and other incentives. Health authorities believe that the advertising and marketing of unhealthful foods and beverages via these types of cross-promotions and premiums contribute to the development of unhealthy eating patterns and behaviors that lead to obesity, particularly in children. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimated that, in 2006, ten restaurant chains spent $360 million to acquire toys to distribute with children’s meals, and that toys accounted for the fast food industry’s second highest category of child-directed promotional expenditures, after television advertising. Most restaurants use a variety of marketing strategies to attract customers, such as offering large portions and value meals. Some restaurants have begun to explore marketing strategies focused on “healthy options”. This session will start with brief research presentations to describe what is being offered, marketed, and purchased at fast food restaurants. The session will also feature industry’s response to the obesity epidemic, as well as potential legal/policy responses, and a case study on the impacts of San Francisco’s Healthy Meals legislation on the purchases of children and adolescents.
Session Objectives: 1. Compare the nutritional quality of the food served by the top fast food companies with what experts recommend; 2. Describe what children and adolescents order at fast food restaurants and how marketing and toy giveaways may affect what they order; 3. Describe a case study of policy by presenting the impacts of toy giveaway legislation (Healthy Meals legislation) in San Francisco County, California; 4. Describe what the fast food industry is doing to improve healthy eating by children and adolescents; and 5. Identify policy and legal instruments that legislators can use to improve menu options and restaurant environments at fast food restaurants.
Lenard Lesser, MD MSHS
Lynn Silver Chalfin, MD, MPH, FAAP

Fast food restaurant menu offerings score poorly in relation to dietary guidance
Sharon Kirkpatrick, PhD, RD, Jill Reedy, PhD, RD, Jennifer L. Harris, PhD, MBA, Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, PhD, RD and Susan Krebs-Smith, PhD, RD
Rating fast food by calories purchased: Is Subway healthier than McDonald's?
Lenard Lesser, MD MSHS, Karen Kayekjian, MPH, Paz Villanueva Velasquez, Virginia Velasquez, Deborah Cohen, MD, MPH and Chi-hong Tseng, PhD
Food purchases and attitudes in response to toy giveaway legislation of adults and children at affected fast food restaurants in San Francisco, CA
Jennifer J. Otten, PhD, RD, Eric B. Hekler, PhD, Matthew P. Buman, PhD, Laura O'Donohue, Rebecca A. Krukowski, PhD, Brian E. Saelens, PhD, Christopher D. Gardner, PhD and Abby C. King, PhD

See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.

Organized by: Food and Nutrition
Endorsed by: Maternal and Child Health, Public Health Education and Health Promotion, School Health Education and Services, Community Health Planning and Policy Development

CE Credits: Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH) , Masters Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES)

See more of: Food and Nutrition