Don't Eat Cartoon Characters...They're bad for you

Contributed by Andrea Bossenmeyer

Yet another research study is emerging showing that if you stick Dora or Shrek or any other popular cartoon character on the front of a box or a banana that is what the child will choose to eat. The study shows preschoolers will choose the 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.

What have we learned? If we are in a school site, ensure that there is no cartoon marketing or branding on any of the foods. School administrators and teachers have little control over what choices are made at home, however in schools we have full control. Allow healthy choices and options that are marketing free.

"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.

Two, we have to look out for children because their cognitive abilities are not as skilled or refined as ours.

To learn more about the details of the study: US Dept of Health & Human Services

Additional Resources:
Schools Role in Childhood Obesity Crisis
Start a School Garden to have low cost/ free fruits and veggies
Recess Program proven to get kids active
Start a walking club