Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cartoon Characters Charm Kids into Eating Junk Food

Source: CNN.com (Summary by NIM)

They don't just have amazing powers and charm in the movies or on TV! Nope, kids' favourite cartoon characters like Dora the Explorer, Spongebob Squarepants and Shrek are also able to work their magic on kids in real life and it's not all fun and games. According to new research, kids' beloved cartoon characters are actually really good junk food salespeople.

The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics found that foods slapped with images of cartoon characters made children 50% more likely to choose them. Whats more? They said those food items tasted better than the exact same foods presented in plain packaging!

The researchers used both healthy items such as carrots and some unhealthy food items such as gummies and graham crackers in their study. This study, as well as previous studies, found that using the likeness of 'licenced characters' on food products, regardless of what they are, made kids more likely to choose them and like them. This is great news when it comes to healthy items like carrots, but not so great in other cases. Scientists warn that since these cartoon characters often appear on the packages of chips and candies, kids associate these foods with 'good feelings' and positive memories.

Find out more about Dora's 'other' job by reading the article called "Study: Cartoon characters attract kids to junk food" from CNN health (June 21, 2010).


Marty said...

I am trying to put together a socially responsible children’s animated TV series (still in the early stages), and one of the characters is actually a junk food junkie, but I am trying to find ways to encourage healthier alternatives by having the main character focus some attention on the negative aspects of eating junk food.

It is a really tough task to try and reverse the grip that marketing wizards have on our children.