Mothers who can’t convince their children to eat green beans — or any other vegetable — may have been handed a new ploy by the results of a Stanford University study: try serving it wrapped in a McDonald’s bag.

A recent study by the Stanford Prevention Research Center recently found that its sample of children ages 3 to 5 preferred the taste of foods presented to them in wrappers that carried the McDonald’s logo. That held true even though the foods originated from the same source, and none of it came from McDonald’s. The results were similar even when the food was carrots instead of fries.

The study involved only 63 children, so it could be argued that a larger sample is needed to generate more reliable scientific figures, but the outcome is hardly surprising. Researchers said it shows the effects marketing plays on young people long before they enter first grade. McDonald’s was chosen as the brand because of its broad market saturation.

Those findings might be cause for alarm for some parents and nutritionists. A spokesman for McDonald’s was looking on the brighter side, however, during an interview with The New York Times. McDonald’s believes the study shows how the company’s branding of its own milk, apples, vegetables and salads has led to major increases in the purchases of those menu items by families at their restaurants.

Moms and dads shouldn’t blame restaurants for promoting themselves. Neither should they blame them for doing it successfully. The growing problem of overweight and obese children is a problem that goes beyond the most popular fatty and fried selections featured at numerous fast food and sit-down restaurants. Healthier options are being offered on their menus, and full disclosures concerning nutrition are becoming more common.

Parents still have the option of staying home and preparing meals, and of placing healthier selections in front of their young children when they do dine out. Teaching children wise eating habits is no less important than teaching them how to read and write or to say “please” and “thank you.” Parents just need to remember to be parents, and to practice what they preach.

Brownwood Bulletin