Start Date: November 2011

ID #: 69552

Principal Investigator: James Sargent, MD

Organization: Dartmouth College

Funding Round: Rapid-Response Round 4

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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. This 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.

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