Sunday, November 8, 2015

Using kids toys for more healthy foods-New policy ploy for improving nutrition of fast foods

Advertisements and gift attractions are integral part of promoting a product or a service. Commercial promotion has become such a critical part of any modern marketing that business volume is invariably linked to intensity of advertisement and promotion and the spending incurred by the brands. Look at to day's Television industry in India where piggy back riding on entertainment and other broadcasting programs seems to be bringing in more than adequate returns for those brands for the money invested. It is another matter that the proportion of time usurped by the commercials to the program content is increasing alarmingly, often taking up more than 50% of the slotted program time. Incredulously most advertisements are so stupid that the viewers, if given an app to skip them,  will gladly use it with great relief! On the ground level, marketeers also use the ploy to offer gifts to consumers if they buy their products and many unwary buyers fall for this trap. Children are especially vulnerable to this allurement and success in providing toys in packed foods as well as in restaurants have been clearly proved to be most successful way of persuading parents to buy junk foods succumbing to the pleadings of their kids.Taking into consideration this trend many policy makers are proposing using the same strategy to promote healthy foods through the toy route. Here is the gist of it as being suggested by researchers at the New York University Langone Medical Center based on the results of field studies establishing the soundness of this concept.   .  

"If a proposed new policy in New York City is approved, then fast food meals that come with toys would contain fewer calories overall, and fewer from fat and sodium, researchers report. "We can create policies that will nudge us toward healthier behaviors," said senior author Marie Bragg, of NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. The proposed policy, which was introduced to the New York City Council, says fast food meals that come with a small toy must include a serving of fruit, vegetable or whole grain. The law would also limit meals with toys to no more than 500 calories, and it would place additional restrictions on fat and salt. To estimate the effect of the proposal, researchers analyzed food purchases made by 358 adults for 422 children at Burger King, McDonald's and Wendy's restaurants in New York City and New Jersey in 2013 and 2014. The average child in the study was seven years old. As reported in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the adults purchased an average of 600 calories of food for each child, with a third of those calories coming from fat. The meals contained an average of 869 mg of salt - more than half the total daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association. About 35 percent of the children ate kids' meals that came with toys - and 98 percent of those meals did not meet the proposed guidelines, the researchers write. If all the meals with toys met the proposed standards, children would consume 9 percent fewer calories and there would also be 10 percent reductions in salt and calories from fat, the researchers calculated. "It's a rather small amount in comparison to how bad the country's obesity problem really is," Bragg acknowledged. But small changes could add up, she said. "There's a lot of value in the incremental changes that can sum up to a great impact with all the other changes occurring in the environment," such as policies that create healthier workplaces and communities, Bragg told Reuters Health.
Bragg hopes fast food restaurants won't try to sidestep any new policies. "We're at a point where we have to move the needle and we have to do it with policies like this," she said. ("

This is a welcome development because earlier policy makers were worried about the negative impact of the successful use of toys by the manufacturers of junk foods in making fortunes made by exploiting the soft minds of young kids who easily get tempted by the toys offered and involuntarily flock to such restaurants and kids section of super markets offering such incentives. There are restrictive policies in some places to allow including toys only if the foods sold are within certain parameters of nutrition. Now this policy is being expanded to insist inclusion of toys in food packets or restaurant items for foods with high nutritive and health benefits. How far industry will go along with such a paradigm shift in marketing strategy remains to be seen. Possibly to begin with governments can provide financial incentives to manufacturers for making more and more healthy foods in the form of lesser taxes and reimbursing the cost of the toys given away.


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