Cartoon characters allure kids to Junk foods

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Kids love cartoons. You might have seen Wallmart, Target and other stores are flooded with eatables, stationeries having cartoon characters on it. Cartoon characters like Shrek, Dora the Explorer, and other animated TV and movie stars grab attraction of kids, which has lead to higher sale of the kid’s products for companies.  A recent study conducted on junk foods endorsed with cartoon characters raised the concerns of health experts.  The study was conducted by Yale University and found that children overwhelmingly preferred the taste of snacks endorsed by cartoon characters, although the food itself was unchanged.

The researchers examined a group of 40, four to six-year-old children with three different snacks – graham crackers, gummy fruit snacks and carrots. Each snack was packaged in two different ways. Half the packages were branded with popular cartoon characters Dora the Explorer, Shrek, and Scooby Doo while the other half were unbranded. Results revealed that 50% children said that food from a package decorated with a cartoon celebrity such as Shrek tasted better than the same exact food from a plain package.

The study will be published this week (June 2010) in the journal Pediatrics.

Food and beverage companies spend more than $1.6 billion a year to attract kid’s attention and 13% of that is spent on character licensing and similar cross-promotion efforts, according to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) data cited in the study. The woman who headed the study is now pushing for the FTC to restrict the use of licensed characters on junk food.




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We know that childhood obesity is at record levels in US. 32% of US children and adolescents are overweight or obese, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cartoon character endorsing the junk products may be a factor responsible for growing childhood obesity.

Some experts suggests that characters such as Dora and SpongeBob Square Pants should be used to market fruits and vegetables and other healthier food stuffs rather than unhealthy or junk foods.  It looks like a good idea to me.

This study comes as no surprise to me.  We have been kid at some stage of our life and we know how much kids love their favorite cartoon character and want to have things related to the famous characters.  I think organizations promoting consumption of veggies and healthier diet options should learn from this study and float some TV commercial with popular cartoon characters eating healthy foods.

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2 Responses

  1. Chris Wells says:


    I am writing to you to ask for permission to use images on my school project. This will only be used for my school project of creating a multi-media on Healthy eating. Thank you and please reply.


  2. Pretty! This was a really wonderful article. Thanks for providing this info.

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