Toys that come with meals dictate what kids want to eat

Toys that come with meals dictate what kids want to eatA lot of restaurants give away toys with certain kid’s meals. A survey says this has a powerful influence on what kids want to eat.

The survey was made by the Cancer Council Victoria in Australia, the local ABC News reports. About 1000 Australian children took part in the survey.

All of them were between ages five to nine. They were offered a number of healthy and unhealthy foods after watching a movie trailer followed by an ad for fast food or leisure activities.

Some of the meals came with a toy of a movie characters. Others were without a toy. The survey showed that overall children were more likely to choose fast food.

But when the healthy meals came along with a toy as a gift, then kids unsurprisingly preferred them. “When a movie character toy was offered with a fast food meal, kids were more likely to want that meal regardless of how healthy or unhealthy it was,” Lead author Helen Dixon from the Cancer Council said. She adds that the survey shows fast food companies have known about this for decades.

Kids even said the meal with the toy looked better, they thought it would taste better and make them feel better. And, as you can imagine, there’s now a call to overhaul the standards to combat obesity. One in four kids in Australia alone are overweight or obese.

Dixon adds that the World Health Organizations has concerns about the way food is marketed. They want a restructure to support healthy choices instead of junk food. Some even say the government should be involved and step in with rules. About 40% of children’s diets are unhealthy foods which leads to obesity in the adult life.

The amount of fast food that kids eat should be lowered. The survey though shows it’s relatively easy to point children towards healthier meals. All you have to do is make healthy food fun.