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The Happy Meal Effect

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Aysha B

on 6 March 2014

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Transcript of The Happy Meal Effect

Toy premiums (providing toys with childrens meals) are popular in the fastfood industry, and are usually promotions with the entertainment industry
The Happy Meal Effect: The Impact of Toy Premiums on Healthy Eating Among Children in Ontario, Canada
Will children select healthier food choices when accompanied by toy premiums at McDonald's?

Toy premiums (providing toys with childrens meals) are popular in the fast-food industry, and are usually promotions with the entertainment industry
Problem?
Increasing proportion of Canadian children who eat at fast-food outlets as part of their regular diet has contributed to the increase in obesity
Since 1981, childhood obesity has nearly tripled with approximately 26% of Canadians aged 6-19 are currently overweight or obese
Food consumed at fast-food restaurants is associated with high caloric, higher fat and saturated fat intake as well as lower intake of fruits and veggies
Fast-food
Obesity
So how do toy premiums effect this?
The Study
OBESITY!
http://journal.cpha.ca/index.php/cjph/article/view/3181/2646
Overview
Study on children aged 6-13
Offered two ‘healthier’ and two ‘less healthy’ Happy Meal options
Toy premiums only were accompanied by the healthier meal options
Children were randomly assigned to either a control or intervention condition
Canada has very few regulations restricting food marketing practices directed at children...most marketing comes from TV advertisements
Healthier option = less than
600 calories
35% of total calories from fat
10% calories from saturated fat
0.5 trans-fat
640 mg of sodium
Children attending YMCA
Method
Letters were sent to parents with consent forms
Camp staff provided lunch forms to children
Completed order forms were collected to analyze
Control Group
All four meals had toy premium
Intervention Group
Healthy options have toy premium
Meal Options
ONE
McDonald’s hamburger with ketchup, pickles and two slices of onion, small french fries and a can of coke
TWO
Grilled chicken wrap with a sodium-reduced tortilla, ½ cup lettuce, light cheddar cheese, sodium-reduced ranch sauce, small french fries and can of coke
THREE
FOUR
Grilled chicken wrap with sodium reduced tortilla, ½ cup lettuce, light cheddar cheese, sodium-reduced ranch sauce, apple slices with caramel dipping sauce and a bottle of water
Results
Healthier meal = 39.5% (intervention)
19.4% (control)
Children in the intervention condition were significantly more likely to order a healthier meal compared to children in the control condition
Conclusion
Policies that restrict toy premiums to food that meet nutritional criteria may promote healthier eating at fast-food restaurants.
Therefore, McDonald’s has announced nationwide changes to Happy Meals
Limitations
Food choices were made without parents present
Convenience sample so not a representative sample of ethnicity/race of the children
Overall response rate was 64% of children...may be biased
Suggestions
Future research should examine the impact of toy premiums on children’s fast-food meal choices when parents are present when food is ordered which may be more consistent with how these decisions are made in practice
Issue involves implementing a policy where toy premiums should only be offered with the 'healthier' Happy Meal
Provides a legal/regulatory analysis
Describes behavioural intervention
Examines childrens behaviour in food choices
A policy article (experimental study)
Explores policy interventions to improve the eating habits of children
Well described study with clear indication of the population, measures and analysis

Possible selection bias as it was a convenience sample (children in YMCA)
Should be applied when parents are present to make it realistic
Why Should We Care?
Contributes to child obesity
Fast-food consumption increasing in Canada
Incentives (toy premiums) can impact children positively if change is made
Percentage consuming food prepared in fast-food outlets, by age group and sex, household population aged 4 or older, Canada excluding territories, 2004
http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/2006004/article/habit/c-g/4060640-eng.htm
Though this focuses on America, Canada isn't far behind...it's time to make a change!
Restricting toy premiums MANAGES childhood obesity, but does not eliminate the problem
References
Hamburger with pickles and ketchup and two slices of onions, apple slices with caramel dipping sauce and a bottle of water

Parents play a great role in influencing kids where to eat. How else would they pick up these habits?
Researchers need to consider that in order to eliminate the problem, tackle the pressing issue..food insecurity!!
Food insecurity is a big issue in obesity!!
- Healthier foods should be less expensive
- Lower income families choose the 'cheaper' alternative
by eating from fast-food restaurants
- Other factors such as affordable housing and
education contribute to obesity rates
- Lack of well payed jobs...raising wages to increase
household incomes could encourage healthy eating
While toy premiums are a step forward in managing the problem, they do not eliminate it. Therefore, by focusing our attention to implementing policies in reducing the root of the problem (food insecurity) within Canada, we are more likely to see the rates of childhood obesity decrease.
Hobin, E. P. et al., (2012). The Happy Meal Effect: The Impact of Toy Premiums on Healthy Eating Among
Children in Ontario, Canada. Canadian journal of public health, 103(4), 244-248. Retrieved February 20,
2014, from http://journal.cpha.ca/index.php/cjph/article/view/3181.
Ecological Public Health model
- This is the era of food policies and strategies
- Key concepts to think about from this era are food
citizenship, food sovereignty and healthy and
sustainable food systems
- Food sovereignty is the idea is that not only do
we want to be free or have an influence on
eaters but also as producers (i.e. McDonald's
influence to provide better meal options to
children)
Happy Meal. (2014) http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/food/meal_bundles/happy_meals.html
Ronald McDonald. (2007). http://coolspotters.com/characters/ronald-mcdonald
Ramesh, A. (2011). McDonald's Advertisements. http://dranil-marketingmusings.blogspot.ca/2011/03/food-oh-my-darling.html
YMCA Logo. (2014). http://id.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Men's_Christian_Association
McDonald's Nutrition Labels and Food Items. (2014). http://www.mcdonalds.ca/ca/en/food/nutrition_centre.html#/
McDonald's Nutrition Labels and Food Items. (2014). http://www.mcdonalds.ca/ca/en/food/nutrition_centre.html#/
Fast Food - The Infographic Video (2012).
Happy Meal Commercial - Minions. (2013).
1. Hobin, E. P. et al., (2012). The Happy Meal Effect: The Impact of
Toy Premiums on Healthy Eating Among Children in Ontario,
Canada. Canadian journal of public health, 103(4), 244-248.
Retrieved February 20, 2014, from http://journal.cpha.ca/
index.php/cjph/article/view/3181.
2. Jovanovic, M. (2014). Lecture 9 on Homelessness and Food
Insecurity. Personal Collection of M. Jovanovic. University of
Toronto, Scarborough, Ontario.
3. Mah, C. (2014). Lecture 5 on Food Insecurity. Personal Collection
of C. Mah. University of Toronto, Scarborough, Ontario.
4. Warwick-Booth. L et al. (2012) Contemporary Health Studies.
United Kingdom: Polity
Ramesh, A. (2011). McDonald's Advertisements. http://dranil-marketingmusings.blogspot.ca/2011/03/food-oh-my-darling.htmlRamesh, A.
Hobin, E. P. et al., (2012). Graphs from stud. http://journal.cpha.ca/index.php/cjph/article/view/3181.
Hobin, E. P. et al., (2012). Graphs from stud. http://journal.cpha.ca/index.php/cjph/article/view/3181.
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