The Augusta Chronicle:

Ronald McDonald is reaching out to your children, and so are Wendy and the Burger King.

The top 12 fast food restaurants spent $4.2 billion in 2009 on marketing, much of it to children, even preschoolers, according to a study released Monday by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. The result is children often asking for fast food and getting it, which is helping to fuel the childhood obesity epidemic in the U.S., the study authors said.

“We believe that children really are exposed to a massive amount of marketing for lots of unhealthy foods,” said Kelly Brownell, a co-founder and the director of the Yale center, which said the report is the “most comprehensive examination ever of fast food nutrition and marketing to youth.”