Obese Children Turned on by Fast Food Logos
Research has shown that children prefer food and products with familiar brand logos. However, some do more than others, a study in the Journal of Pediatrics shows. The researchers used MRI scans to find out how heavy versus healthy-weight children respond to fast food brand logos. Surprisingly, heavy-weight kids react differently to food brands than normal-weight kids.
- When heavy-weight kids see a food brand logo, the pleasure centers of their brain lighten up, which is a similar reaction as when children get a candy or a present.
- When heavy-weight kids see a a fast food logo, the self-control centers of the brain are less active than for healthy-weight children.
- Obese children are more vulnerable to food advertising than healthy weight children, because the self-control regions in their brains are less developed, and are even undermined when seeing food brands.
- To harm obese children for unhealthy food advertising, future interventions should focus on increasin these kids' self-control.
How are logos being processed in the brain of obese versus healthy weight children?
20 children between the age of 10 and 14 years old (mean age 11,8 years old). 10 children were obese, 10 children were normal weight
Kansas, United States
First, the children filled out a questionnaire about their demographics and their self-reported self control. Afterwards, researchers showed the children 60 food logos and 60 non-food logos, all of popular brands and/or companies. Meanwhile, the researchers scanned the brains and measured the brain activity of children, by making use of MRI, to see how they responded to the different logos.
Facts and findings
- When a logo for a fast-food brand was shown to the obese children, there was an increased activity in most parts of their brains.
- Specifically, the pleasure centers of their brain were lighting up, which is a similar reaction as when children get a candy or a present.
- When shown a fast food logo, obese children had less brain activation in the brain parts associated with self-control, than healthy weight children had.
- Therefore, it’s likely that obese children are more vulnerable to the effects of food advertising than healthy weight children are.
- Fun fact: The results of this study were almost the same to the results of earlier studies, where researchers didn’t use logos, but used images of food.