Brainwashed by Junk Food? New Study Reveals Fast-Food Logos "Imprinted" in Children’s Minds

This article was produced in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.


Do your children light up when they see those golden arches?

Well, they’re surely not alone. A new study released this week showed that brain activity in areas connected to rewards and appetite control increased in children when they were shown well-known fast food logos.

Researchers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Kansas Medical Center showed children, ages 10-14, 120 popular company logos — 60 food and 60 non-food logos. During this process, researchers used MRI technology to scan the children’s brains and monitor their activity. The study found that fast-food logos triggered an increase in brain activity compared to the non-food logos. 

Researcher Dr. Amanda Bruce said that while viewing fast food logos, the children’s increased brain activity was not that much different than when the children saw actual food. She said children’s interest and familiarity with food logos is “concerning,” as the logos are marketing food that is unhealthy.

Dr. Bruce told The Independent that this is especially worrisome as areas in the brain that provide self-control are not fully developed in children:

The theory is the increase in risk-taking behavior in adolescence is attributed to uneven development in brain regions associated with cognitive control and emotional drive. … The brains of children are 'imprinted' with food logos. Without the necessary inhibitory processes to aid in decision-making, youth are particularly susceptible to making poor choices about what to eat.

Prior to this study, Dr. Bruce’s team had also found that the brain of obese youth react faster with interest for fast food logos than youth with a healthy weight.

Dr. Bruce added that children’s brains are branded very early in life.

She said, “Some research finds that children identify the golden arches for McDonald's before they know the letter M.”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.