All I Want for Christmas is for McDonald’s to Leave My Kids Alone!

Being a good parent is hard. Teaching your kids wrong from right, protecting them from harm, and encouraging their curiosity are all part of a mother’s and father’s daily routine. Creating healthy food habits is also a major component of parenting. We have 3 to 5 opportunities a day to create and reinforce healthy eating choices.

There is a fifth column in our homes and neighborhoods, undermining our efforts and persuading children that fast foods Must. Be. Consumed. Advertising these pseudo-foods to children is one of most immoral things a company can do. Children don’t have the ability to critically appraise TV commercials and other ads. They see a toy offered with a happy meal and boom, the nagging begins.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation compiled some interesting stats regarding the top perpetrators:

  • Burger King and McDonalds are responsible for 99% of all ads!
  • 4 TV Channels are responsible for 4 out 5 commercials kids see: Nickelodeon, Nicktunes, DisneyXD, and Cartoon Network.

Shame on these companies.

Some parents have no problem with this type of marketing to children because they have been successful in educating their kids about the bogus nature of ads and foods. But many parents are struggling with the incessant “ad noise” that their children are bombarded with hundreds of times a week. So please, McDonald’s, leave kids alone!

Here is the full infographic from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

  • Casey

    I can and do keep the TV off at home but am undermined when McDonald’s uses schools and libraries to market to kids. That’s why I speak up and help amplify parents’ voices with #MomsNotLovinIt action:

    • Nadine

      I agree with Casey. I’m so offended when schools partner with local McDonalds to see which class can eat the most in order to raise much needed school funds. Our local McDonalds puts teachers behind the counter to serve the students and their families and calls it “teacher’s night.’ Makes our schools look painfully ignorant.

  • Lisa Bluford

    My husband & I switched to Netflix & Hulu in lieu of cable for purely financial reasons a couple of years ago. At first, I was disappointed to lose her Disney Channel & Cartoon Network (and my Lifetime), but I immediately noticed the lack of ads having a positive impact. Kids believe what is said to them in ads. The ads tell them to buy stuff, food, toys, whatever, and it’s confusing to them to have a parent tell them no when the ad just told them it was the best product ever and you simply had to have it. She spends the night with her grandmother, who does still have cable, and will even come home telling me what cleaning products I HAVE to buy. With innocent, very young kids, you just can’t compete with ads.

    • EVIL food scientist

      I’m a periodic critic of things I read in this blog. Harping on advertising is something I never really understood. Companies who have products to sell to kids advertise to kids, GASP! They have the audacity to advertise during time slots and on programs/channels that kids watch, GASP AGAIN!!
      You mean that McDonalds isn’t pushing happy meals during a PGA tournament? They don’t have happy meal ads during episodes of American Horror Story or The Walking Dead? How DARE they single out programs and channels that cater to the demographic that would want their product?!?!?
      I have to agree with Lisa. I haven’t watched broadcast TV in the past 15 years. My three kids are not denied TV or videos, it’s just all off disks or streaming services.
      No ads.
      No whining.
      And when they do whine, I say no. I’m a parent. What I do with my 3 kids (two of which have heavy duty ADHD and ODD (oppositional defiance disorder also known as F@&K YOU I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME)) is say no when my position is no.
      I’m a parent. What I’m doing is called parenting. Give it a try.

      • Lisa Bluford

        While I agree with your position that McDonalds has the right to advertise and it’s a parent’s job to say no, there is a logic involved that is not being applied in this case. When the scientific community realized just how bad cigarettes were for you, they would not allow them to advertise in any way that could appear to target children, they would not allow them to have TV commercials any more – I don’t even remember all the restrictions. But McDonalds has no restrictions, despite there not being a single person who can say a Happy Meal is good for a child. It’s pretty unanimous that it’s bad for a child in fact. And yet, there’s a huge Ronald McDonald statue in my local Walmart, they can participate in school functions. A parent can turn off the TV, but they cannot completely shield their child from McDonald’s very aggressive advertising. As much as I would prefer a smaller government, less involved in our daily lives, I can’t say I would mind some common sense restrictions placed on them regarding advertising.

  • Mom2Seven

    I have seven children through birth and adoption, ages 1-18, and I never have this problem. My children don’t beg for McDonald’s or happy meal toys. They also don’t sit on their bums watching hours of TV every day, either. They love fruits and veggies and enjoy McD’s as a treat occasionally. There’s nothing wrong with a Happy Meal as long as you don’t let junk food dominate your child’s diet! Why shouldn’t they be allowed to advertise their product? It isn’t McD’s job to ‘police’ what you feed your children >.<

    • Fooducate

      “There’s nothing wrong with a Happy Meal as long as you don’t let junk food dominate your child’s diet!”

      Agreed. Once in a while.

      But McDonald’s and Burger King DO dominate many kids’ diets because of their extremely aggressive marketing tactics.

  • Paul Kemp

    So, who let the TV in the home? TV is all about creating desires for the many products and activities it advertises, but it rarely provides any avenues of earning the money necessary for having those things. It portrays an imaginary world populated with unusually photogenic, dramatic characters and gets us in the habit of becoming spectators, rather than achievers. I can’t imagine a more destructive technology to expose your children to, than commercial-filled TV.

  • Linda

    Turn off the tv and go outside and play with the kids, tell them no when they ask for a happy meal. Worked for us and we had three kids.

  • penelope

    I have to agree with the previous comment. If your kids are incessantly being bombarded with ads then perhaps we should be looking at another problem. Too much TV.