Study: Kids who recognize fast-food brands are more likely to be obese

Ever wonder how much of an impression those Golden Arches and other fast food logos have on kids?  A new study suggests a lot.

Researchers at Michigan State University say that kids who were able to recognize fast food logos, soda brands and other junk food images are more likely to be overweight or obese.

Researchers tested kids between the ages of three and five by handing them images of food items, packaging and cartoon characters and asked to match the items with their corresponding brand logos.

The children who were able to correctly identify logos such as "golden arches, silly rabbits and a king's crown," tended to have higher Body Mass Indexes (BMIs), stated the study published in the journal Appetite.

“We found the relationship between brand knowledge and BMI to be quite robust,” says Anna McAlister, assistant professor of advertising and public relations at Michigan State University. “The kids who know most about these brands have higher BMIs.”

The study tried to see whether a sedentary lifestyle and watching too much TV makes children fat, or if it is the unhealthy food messages that children see on it. McAlister says that what is learned through the brands -- not just the TV time itself –had an impact.

“It’s probably the developing food knowledge, not the sedentary lifestyle,” she said.

Limiting a child’s exposure to TV advertising might be a step in the right direction towards healthier children, she suggested.

Previous research has shown that children who are overweight tend to maintain an unhealthy weight throughout their lives.