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Monday, June 21, 2010

Cartoon characters help obesity?

By Briana Booker

Enjoy cartoons? So do I! And very young children enjoy them more! A recent study implies popular cartoon characters are influencing the taste buds of children in a negative way.

 The study indicates American food products packaged with characters like Spongebob and Dora the Explorer are promoting elementary school students to choose higher calorie and bad dieting foods over more nutritious items.
The study observed 40 preschoolers of all ethnic backgrounds in four different child care centers in New Haven. Children were presented with three different food types:

 low-nutrient/low-energy graham crackers; low-nutrient/high-energy gummy fruit snacks; and high-nutrient/low-energy baby carrots.

Each food product was packaged in the same color, shape and design. One brand less and the other branded. The overall result to the children was that the branded package tasted better than the brand less one.

The issue is that cartoon characters are more likely to be on processed food products. This reminds me of the camel cartoon character on cigarette packages. It is definitely a public health issue. Maybe the same reason why there are so many obese children in America. Can you say headed for the years of Wall-e?

Although children of this age group have advanced cognitive skills and short term and long term memory in place, they have difficulty in being skeptical about the messages they are obtaining from their environments.

Hopefully, revamping cartoon characters on healthier foods will help fight obesity.

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