# biology | Social networks introduce a child to fast food

Fast food is very convenient, but its acceptedconsidered harmful. Fast food chains are redefining their menus and marketing approaches, but that's not enough. Children and adolescents still overeat in such establishments with excessively high-calorie foods. Meanwhile, the chains of fast food restaurants are moving their ads to social networks, where there are more children and youth.

Rachel Rhettner on the pages of the popular science resource Live Science talked about how the situation with children in the USA is and how they feel about fast food, how their love for fast food is formed.

First of all, the good news: watching television advertising of fast food for children aged 6 to 11 years in 2012 decreased by 10% compared to 2009. This is the result of a study conducted by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. Most fast food eateries began to include healthy foods, fruits and vegetables in their menus. McDonald’s, for example, includes a half apple in a child’s serving.

In 2012, as follows from the reportResearchers, an average child or teenager watched every day on television from three to five commercials advertising fast food. But fast food chains have shifted their advertising efforts to social media. Now the younger generation is getting acquainted with the idea of ​​fast food through their favorite mobile devices, rather than televisions, which today are somewhat old-fashioned in the eyes of young electronics users.

Director of Marketing Initiatives, Rudd CenterJennifer Harris at a meeting of the American Public Health Association (American Public Health Association) notes that technological progress plays a dual role. While traditional television commercials are becoming less attractive to younger gourmets, “snack bars have many [other] ways to get children's attention.”

These methods have appeared relatively recently. If a few years ago, the main source of information about market news was TV, today the situation has changed. Social networks have become so popular among children and youth that television is already far from it. They watch TV, as before, but the Internet comes first.

Researchers recommend limiting ads totelevision and the web space of fast food diners targeted at children. The industry should also impose age limits on access to its marketing tools on social media and through mobile devices.

The desired is rarely true, and the situation with the children's diet in the United States was no exception. Less than 1% of all children’s servings (33 out of 5 thousand 427) met children's nutritional standards.

Researchers managed to establish some interesting facts regarding fast food and the role that it plays for the younger generation:

In 2012, 4.6 billion US dollars were spent on advertising fast food chains, which is 8% more than in 2009.

Child-centric sites McDonald’s, Burger King, and Dairy Queen have shut down.

Web advertising through banners on other sites continues. McDonald’s Happy Meals ads grew 63%. A significant part of advertising is broadcast on websites for children.

After McDonald’s began adding apples to children's servings (along with half a portion of supposedly unhealthy potatoes), the number of children receiving apples from these snack bars tripled.

Milk, 100 percent natural juices and othershealthy drinks are ordered in the same quantities as before. The consumption of sweet carbonated water has not changed (McDonald’s has stopped advertising them in children's menus).

A significant part of the advertising that was previously broadcast on websites has moved to the social network Facebook. In 2012, fast food ads were broadcast on Facebook 6 billion times.

Games and promotion products, also called "adveragames," are now offered to mobile phone users.

However, the director of the Rudd Center Marlene Schwartzbelieves that fast food has begun to gradually introduce elements of a healthy diet into its menus. That is, it began to include whole grains, vegetables and less fat-saturated foods.

Do you think that fast food is definitely harmful,or does it all depend on which products are part of the snack menus offered? Is it permissible that fast food forms the basis of a children's diet? But aren't adults setting an example for children with their addiction to fast food? Perhaps advertising on social networks does not so much create the need for fast food in children, but rather confirms the reality that they see around?