Studying how children themselves perceive advertising on television for kids meals

The Foundation's program, Healthy Eating Research: Building Evidence to Prevent Childhood Obesity, was designed to support investigator-initiated research to identify and assess environmental and policy influences with the greatest potential to improve healthy eating and weight patterns among the nation's children.Some legal scholars suggest that kids' meal advertising constitutes false advertising because of its emphasis on toy premiums and movie tie-ins rather than food. Yet, no one has assessed how the target population perceives such advertising. This study examines whether the emphasis on toy premiums and tie-ins in such ads misleads children to primarily associate non-food items with specific fast-food restaurant brands. The study will utilize a cross-sectional experimental qualitative design, through which 100 children ages 3 to 8 will be recruited to a laboratory setting where their responses to a series of visual prompts will be recorded. Investigators will query participants' perceptions of four randomly selected television ads; two will be kids' meal ads and two will be adult meal ads, taken from a sample of McDonald's and Burger King ads that aired on national television in 2009-10. Children will first view the television ad, and will be asked to describe the ad narrative. They will also be asked about their perceptions of four images with high food salience drawn from each ad. Deliverables include manuscripts to be published in peer-reviewed journals, presenations at national meetings, and dissemination materials to the media.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $147,280.00

Awarded on: 10/10/2011

Time frame: 11/15/2011 - 3/31/2013

Grant Number: 69552


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James D. Sargent
Project Director