Monday, June 21, 2010

Cartoons help kids eat healthier

Do your kids always ask for the food at the grocery store that has come cartoon character on it? I know mine do. I can't seem to get regular Cheez-its anymore. One of the boys always asks for the Sponge Bob version! A new study shows kids think food with a character on the front of it tastes better. This is no surprise to me! I still don't think they would like green peppers if Sponge Bob was on the front of them, but there are probably new foods they would try if they were endorsed by Darth Vader or Ben 10 Alien Force! (We tried green peppers this weekend. It did not go over well. My three year old wouldn't even lick the dip off the peppers because he hated the taste so much!)

FROM NBC: Kids are notoriously picky eaters. Pleas from mom and dad don't do much to influence children on what foods to choose. But the pull this guy has on kids' taste preferences would make most parents pea green with envy. Christina Roberto - Yale University: "When kids had the graham crackers and fruit snacks, they actually thought they tasted better when there was a licensed character on the packaging." Christina Roberto of Yale University put identical foods in front of a group of 4 to 6 year olds.

The only difference was how the snacks were packaged. One was plain. The other had a licensed cartoon character -- like Dora the Explorer -- on it.
Overwhelmingly -- the kids insisted they preferred the taste of the snack endorsed by Dora. Christina Roberto - Yale University) "their cognitive development isn't at the place where they can understand the intent behind advertising and that they're being advertised to." Roberto is pushing for the federal trade commission to restrict the use of licensed characters on junk food.

Christina Roberto - Yale University: "I think it's critical. If we can get the licensed characters off the packaged foods, it will really help level the playing field in supermarkets when parents go out to shop with their kids." A better place for guys like Scooby Doo and Shrek might be in the produce aisle. The kids in this study also said carrots tasted better when they had the approval of a cartoon character.

What parent wouldn't support the idea of Mater tomatoes or Princess peas? Experts say the potential for healthier marketing is there -- you just gotta use your head. The study also tested the marketing powers of Shrek and Scooby Doo -- both highly influenced kids' taste buds.

NewsAnchorMom Jen

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