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 by pairing toys with children’s meals has been targeted as a potential policy focus to improve the nutritional quality of restaurant children’s meals and help parents in their efforts to purchase healthy options while eating out. This issue brief examines the evidence related to restaurant marketing practices using toys and discusses policy implications.
Food Marketing: Using Toys to Market Children’s Meals
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
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 … More
Assessing the Impact of Two California County Ordinances Banning Toys or Other Incentives with Unhealthful Menu Items for Kids
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