Fast-food marketing has brainwashed kids and targets minorities, says study

Aggressive advertising by fast-food companies has taught 15% of preschoolers to ask to go to McDonald's every day, and convinced teens it's OK to consume as many as 1,100 calories in a single meal, says a sharply critical study of the industry's marketing tactics from Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity.

Fast-food marketing to children as young as 2 was so effective in 2009 that two-fifths of U.S. children younger than 11 ask their parents to go to McDonald's at least once a week, says the study -- and 84% of parents admit to obliging.

Minority kids are disproportionately targeted by the ads, with McDonald's and KFC taking the lead in targeting African-American youth with TV advertising, dedicated websites, and banner ads. Such ads feature foods that contain twice as many calories as ads aimed at white children, and African-American children see at least 50% more fast-food ads than their white peers, the study said.