I found this in the news today and hunted down the original paper at Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. It shows that children as young as 3 years old are greatly affected by marketing and brand loyalty, with as many as 73% of kids 3-6 preferring food in McDonald’s wrappings to the same food in plain paper. Even if that item was a carrot, kids preferred it significantly over the generic item.

Reading further, the stats get more interesting.  The more TVs in the house, or the more times the kids ate at McDonald’s per month, the greater the preference for the branded food. The whole paper is a really fascinating read, but it does get (as most scientific publications do) pretty stats-heavy, so if you don’t follow statistics very well, just plow through it and check out the graphs and findings.

Moral of the story?

For parents: Remove TVs from the house, and eat healthy at home more often.

For businesses: your branding can be extremely powerful.  Even the kids who NEVER ate McDonald’s preferred the branded food.