Purveyors of fast food such as McDonald's try to make impression on young consumers. And a new study of kids' brains shows that it's working.
Researchers at the University of Missouri in Kansas City and the University of Kansas Medical Center did MRI scans of kids' noggins while showing them assorted corporate logos.
Turns out that when a logo for a fast-food chain comes up — the golden arches, say — the pleasure centers of kids' brains light up, showing that a connection is being made to something considered a treat or a reward.
A similar effect is nowhere to be found when logos for non-food brands are flashed.
"Research has shown children are more likely to choose those foods with familiar logos," says Dr. Amanda Bruce, who led the study. "That is concerning, because the majority of foods marketed to children are unhealthy, calorifically dense foods high in sugars, fat and sodium."
The tests were conducted on children ages 10 to 14. They were exposed to 60 food and 60 non-food logos.