Food Marketing to Children Through Toys: Response of Restaurants to the First U.S. Toy Ordinance
Santa Clara County, California was the first U.S. jurisdiction to implement an ordinance that prohibits the distribution of toys and other incentives to children with meals, foods, or beverages that do not meet minimal nutrition criteria. This paper examines how ordinance-affected restaurants changed their children’s menus, child-directed marketing, and toy distribution practices relative to non-affected restaurants in the first four months after the ordinance went into effect. Researchers found that, although restaurants had only 90 days to comply, the ordinance appears to have encouraged affected restaurants to promote healthier meal items, provide more nutritional guidance on signage, and remove toy signage or discontinue distribution of toys with unhealthy food items. No restaurants introduced healthier items post-ordinance, nor did they reformulate menu items to meet ordinance criteria.
Nearly $2 billion is spent yearly by U.S. food and beverage companies to market products to children, with the majority of expenditures promoting less healthful foods and drinks. For restaurants, including toys with children’s meals is the leading form of food marketing directed at children. The practice of child-directed marketing … More
In December 2011, San Francisco enacted the first citywide ordinance–the Healthy Food Incentives Ordinance– prohibiting restaurants in the city from giving away free toys or other incentives with children’s meals or with foods and beverages not meeting minimal nutritional criteria. This paper examines the impact of the ordinance on restaurant … More
The advertising and marketing of unhealthful foods and beverages via cross-promotions and premiums, such as toys and other incentives, may contribute to the development of unhealthy eating patterns and obesity, particularly in children. Santa Clara and San Francisco Counties (Calif.) passed separate ordinances on May 21, 2010 and November 9, … More