Navigation Links
Cartoon Characters Sell Kids on Unhealthy Foods
Date:6/21/2010

Using likes of Shrek and Dora to market treats should be banned, researcher says

MONDAY, June 21 (HealthDay News) -- Popular cartoon characters are influencing the taste preferences of very young children, and not in a positive way, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that the branding of American food product packaging with characters such as Dora the Explorer drives preschoolers to choose higher-calorie, less healthful foods over more nutritious options.

"The bottom line is that when kids are presented with a choice of graham crackers, fruit snacks or carrots, and the only difference is that one package has a licensed character on it, they actually think that the food with the character tastes better," said study author Christina Roberto, a doctoral student working at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University in New Haven, Conn.

The findings, reported online June 21 in Pediatrics, reflect on the food preferences of 4- to 6-year-old boys and girls who found foods tastier when the packaging bore the likenesses of beloved TV and movie characters.

The authors looked at 40 preschoolers -- described as "ethnically diverse" -- attending four child-care centers in New Haven. Over the course of two visits, the team presented the children with samples from three different food types: low-nutrient/low-energy graham crackers; low-nutrient/high-energy gummy fruit snacks; and high-nutrient/low-energy baby carrots.

All the foods were packaged with the same color, shape and design, with one brandless and one branded example from each food category. Branded versions bore the likenesses of eminently recognizable cartoon characters: either Scooby Doo, Dora or Shrek.

By the study's conclusion, all the children had sampled each type of food, both with and without character branding.

Overall, the children perceived foods that had character branding as being tastier than those that didn't, the researchers found.

However, the character branding of carrots, the healthiest option, was not quite as persuasive at driving taste as it was for the two less healthy options. This, the authors suggested, could be because healthy foods are character-branded much less often than junk foods.

"We think what might be going on with that is familiarity," Roberto theorized. "Which means that kids are simply really used to seeing characters on foods that are processed. And those foods are also more palatable, so the effects might be accentuated."

Roberto and her colleagues think the findings highlight the need to restrict the use of character licensing on certain unhealthy foods.

"We restrict this kind of cartoon marketing of cigarettes to kids because it's a public health issue," she noted. "We want to protect our children. So I think there's a great parallel there."

"So the priority should be first to get these characters off of unhealthy foods," she added. "And then as a goal ultimately to get them actually put on the packaging for healthy foods. But first we have to focus on dealing with the unhealthy options, because I don't think slapping them on healthy foods while they're still on unhealthy foods is going to work."

Rahil D. Briggs, director of Healthy Steps at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, agrees that combining popular imagery with unhealthful foods is problematic and likely contributing to the obesity epidemic.

"What is unique about children at this age is that although they have fairly advanced cognitive skills and short-term and long-term memory in place, they do not have the ability to be skeptical about the messages they are receiving," she said.

"So what we, as adults, think of as advertising -- and we know how persuasive it can be -- it is not different to them than simply choosing the Dora the Explorer coloring book over a random coloring book. They identify with the coloring book, and they want everything Dora, from soup to nuts."

It follows then, Briggs added, "that when in the grocery aisle with Mom absolutely they will choose the Dora cereal to complement the rest of their Dora collection."

She noted that the alarming increase in obesity among very young children -- rates have more than doubled since the 1970s, she said -- correlates with a parallel spike in the amount of money that the food industry spends on targeting advertising to very young children.

"So when you pair the very sweet foods with the character brands, it's almost too powerful for parents to battle," she concluded. "It's like a one-two punch."

More information

For more on children and healthy weight, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



SOURCES: Christina Roberto, doctoral student, Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, and departments of clinical psychology and epidemiology and public health, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.; Rahil D. Briggs, Psy.D., director, Healthy Steps, Montefiore Medical Center, and assistant professor of pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; June 21, 2010, Pediatrics, online


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Cartoon Network's MOVE IT MOVEMENT TOUR Stops in Seattle Market
2. Online games new marketing tool for unhealthy foods
3. Hookahs an Unhealthy Hit Among Privileged Young Adults
4. Four Unhealthy Behaviors Linked to Premature Death
5. Researchers recommend curriculum on unhealthy substance use
6. Taxing unhealthy foods may encourage healthier eating habits
7. Most Americans Think Its Others Who Are Unhealthy
8. More Natural Fat Burning Foods & Ready-Made Meal Plans Added to the Newly Revised Version of The Diet Solution Program
9. Health Claims on Foods May Not Be Well-Grounded
10. Agricultural Biotechnology Addresses Consumer Demands for Healthier Foods
11. Tapping away desire for those favorite foods and snacks
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Cartoon Characters Sell Kids on Unhealthy Foods
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... The Katyl Agency, a locally ... and business owners in and around Lackawanna County, is joining Meals On Wheels ... area. , Meals on Wheels of NEPA provides hand-delivered and nutritious meals to ...
(Date:6/22/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Branches, Inc. has been partnering with The Miami Foundation for ... its programs focused on providing opportunity to low-income families and breaking the cycle of ... of $15,000 to support its , Climb to College & Career initiative which focuses ...
(Date:6/22/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... Despite its pervasiveness, many physicians are unfamiliar ... integrate basic science with clinical practice. Now, however, a timely review has been published ... insight into the etiology of NeuP and educating preclinical scientists on its diagnosis and ...
(Date:6/20/2017)... Murfreesboro, Tennessee (PRWEB) , ... June 20, 2017 ... ... chronic care services, announced today that Claritas Capital, a Nashville-based private equity firm, ... to accelerate our expansion plans for some time, and Claritas Capital offers the ...
(Date:6/20/2017)... ... June 20, 2017 , ... Hayes, Inc., a leading ... eBook titled “ 5 Questions to Ask Before Entering the Maze of Genetic ... Test Evaluation (GTE) team, the book explores the various types of the more ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/30/2017)... , May 30, 2017 Therapix Biosciences Ltd. ... specializing in the development of cannabinoid-based drugs, today ... company overview at three upcoming scientific and investor ... LD Micro Invitational: ... Date:                     ...
(Date:5/26/2017)... BARBARA, Calif. , May 25, 2017  In ... United States , Direct Relief is working with ... overdose-reversing Naloxone available at no cost to community health ... other nonprofit providers nationwide. "Pfizer has ... access to medicines and ensuring patient safety through educational ...
(Date:5/22/2017)... , May 22, 2017  Lilac Corp, ... Gene-Eden-VIR/Novirin, announces the launch of a new ... the results of a clinical study that showed ... treatment with Gene-Eden-VIR/Novirin in individuals suffering from HPV ... note that there are no other treatments that ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: