Successful advertising (“I want the Dora one!”)

left Health.com author Sarah Klein recently covered the discovery that children’s beloved animated characters are really good salespersons. This may seem obvious, but beyond this finding lies disturbing implications.

The study, conducted on some 40 4- to 6-year-olds, presented identical packages of snacks with one difference; a sticker of a familiar cartoon character. The children then chose a preferred package and stated which one they thought tasted better.

“Between 50 percent and 55 percent of the children said that the food with the sticker on it tasted better than the same food in the plain package. (The percentage varied with each food.) And between 73 percent and 85 percent selected the food in the character packaging as the one they’d prefer to eat as a snack.”

The article quotes an annual $1.6 billion price tag for the marketing of food and beverages to children in the U.S. With obesity and related health complications on the rise, this is disturbing.

Particularly, parents should be aware of food companies’ ploy and step up to provide healthy alternatives to their children. “A healthy body leads to a healthy mind,” right?

I’m not sure I’d go as far as the article does in comparing junk food to pornography, but I do agree that we need to save our children’s health. Perhaps someone should hire The Backyardigans to parade around a marketplace overflowing with fruits and vegetables (“YUM!”).

Read more: Study: Cartoon characters attract kids to junk food.

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Image: federico stevanin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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About Traci S. Williams-Nurse

Dr. Traci Williams-Nurse is a licensed psychologist who specialized in child, adolescent and family psychology. Her interests include child development, family functioning, video games and food. She was born and raised in Trinidad & Tobago and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
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