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Kids Food Choices Strongly Influenced By Packages Showing Cartoon Characters

June 21, 2010: 02:48 AM EST
A study involving 40 children aged 4-6 years old found that kids thought snacks tasted better if pictures of familiar cartoon characters adorned the packages. The children were presented with two packages of snacks, each containing graham crackers, gummy fruit and carrots. One package showed a popular cartoon character, the other didn’t. The researchers not only found that the kids overwhelmingly chose the snack with the character (Scooby-Doo, Dora the Explorer or Shrek), 50-55 percent of them said the snacks with a cartoon character tasted better. “Branding food packages with licensed characters substantially influences young children’s taste preferences and snack selection and does so most strongly for energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods,” the researchers concluded, adding that “the use of licensed characters to advertise junk food to children should be restricted.”
Christina A. Roberto, MS, Jenny Baik, BA, Jennifer L. Harris, MBA, PhD, Kelly D. Brownell, PhD, "Influence of Licensed Characters on Children's Taste and Snack Preferences", Pediatrics, June 21, 2010, © he American Academy of Pediatrics
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