Hey, Critics of the Happy Meal Toy Ban: Banning Fast Food Advertising Does Work

San Francisco came in for a heap of ridicule last year — including some from this very paper — when the Board of Supervisors passed a ban on selling fast-food meals containing toys. The sentiment intensified, of course, when McDonald's easily skirted the ban

Messages like ours have reached the industry, however. Under threat of possible federal regulations that would ban advertising of fast food to children, this summer, a group of major food-industry players — including Hershey, McDonald's and Kraft — agreed to voluntarily agree to only advertise to children products that met certain nutritional standards. The agreement is supposed to go into effect in 2013.

But a study published not long ago in the Journal of Marketing Research suggests a full-on ban on advertising would be even more effective. Researchers Tirtha Dhar and Kathy Baylis looked at fast-food consumption in Quebec from 1986 to 1992, a period when the provincial government banned fast-food advertising. 

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