No child's play

Published: Thursday 31 March 2005

High sugar cereal endorsed by< Obesity UK/T amil Nadu, India

Cartoons are benign. Well think again. Use of cartoon characters such as Scooby-Doo, Bagpuss and Winnie the Pooh has boosted the sales of unhealthy children's food in the uk, rants Which?, a London-based consumer organisation. The organisation carried out a survey of 2,000 parents and found that 77 per cent felt the use of characters made it difficult to say no to their children. Many thought shopping had become a battleground, with children pressing them to buy unhealthy and expensive products because of illustrations of favourite characters on packaging.

Which? criticised 18 products, saying each contained worrying levels of fat, salt or sugar -- and sometimes all three. Among them were Nestl Golden Nuggets cereal, endorsed by The Incredibles, which had 40 grammes (g)of sugar per 100g of cereal -- more than the uk's Food Standards Agency's recommended daily limit for a child aged between one and six. The products were selected on basis of their ready availability in high-street shops and at supermarkets -- the consumer organisation avoided treats such as birthday cakes, looking instead at everyday items.

Which? has often called on the uk's Food Standards Agency to issue clear guidelines on the nutritional criteria that food products must satisfy before cartoon characters can be used for packaging and advertising. Watson said: "Our message today is that licensing agencies are just as responsible as food manufacturers and they can't afford to turn a blind eye to childhood obesity any more."

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