Skip to content

    Health & Parenting

    Font Size

    'McFood' Better Than Food, Kids Say

    Preschoolers Say Carrots Better When Served From McDonald's Bag
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Aug. 6, 2007 -- Whether it's french fries or carrots, preschoolers say food tastes better when it comes in a McDonald's wrapper.

    It's not the food -- it's the brand name. Marketing strongly affects 4-year-olds' food preferences, find Stanford University pediatrics researcher Thomas N. Robinson, MD, MPH, and colleagues.

    Robinson and colleagues studied 63 low-income children enrolled in Head Start centers in California. The kids ranged in age from 3 years to 5 years.

    Told they were playing a food-tasting game, the kids sat at a table with a screen across the middle. A researcher reached around either side of the screen to put out two identical food samples: slices of a hamburger, french fries, chicken nuggets, milk, or baby carrots.

    The only difference between the pairs of food samples was that one came in a plain wrapper, cup, or bag, and the other came in a clean, unused McDonald's wrapper, cup, or bag. The kids were asked whether they liked one of the foods best, or whether they tasted the same.

    In all cases, the majority of the kids said the "best" foods were those linked to the McDonald's brand -- even though the only differences between the bags were the McDonald's logos (no special advertising materials were used).

    • 77% of the kids said the same french fries -- from McDonald's -- were better in a McDonald's bag than in a plain bag (13% liked the ones in the plain bag; 10% could tell they were the same).
    • 61% of the kids said milk tasted better in a McDonald's cup (21% liked milk in a plain cup; 18% could tell it was the same).
    • 59% of the kids said chicken nuggets tasted better in a McDonald's bag (18% liked them in a plain bag; 23% could tell they were the same).
    • 54% of the kids said carrots tasted better in a McDonald's bag (23% liked them in a plain bag; another 23% could tell were the same).
    • 48% of the kids liked hamburgers better in a McDonald's wrapper (37% liked them in a plain wrapper; 15% could tell they were the same).

    Kids who preferred 'McFood' tended to live in homes with a greater number of television sets and tended to eat at McDonald's more often than kids not influenced by the McDonald's brand name.

    "Children preferred the taste of carrots and milk if they thought they were from McDonald's," Robinson and colleagues conclude. "This is an opportunity for heavily marketed brands to respond to rising rates of childhood obesity by changing their product offerings."

    Today on WebMD

    Girl holding up card with BMI written
    Is your child at a healthy weight?
    toddler climbing
    What happens in your child’s second year.
    father and son with laundry basket
    Get your kids to help around the house.
    boy frowning at brocolli
    Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
    mother and daughter talking
    child brushing his teeth
    Sipping hot tea
    boy drinking from cereal bowl
    hand holding a cell phone
    rl with friends
    girl being bullied
    Child with adhd