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Parents demand cartoon heroes be banned from junk food ads


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Parents demand cartoon heroes banned from junk food ads


By SEAN POULTER - More by this author ยป Last updated at 09:49am on 21st August 2007 commentIconSm.gif Comments (3)

Parents want junk food firms to be banned from using cartoon heroes to promote products which are high in fat, sugar and salt.

Research has highlighted popular brands using characters from The Simpsons, Bratz, Shrek and Spider-Man as among the worst culprits.

The consumer group Which? found the vast majority of parents support a ban and has called on the Government to act.

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A spokesman said: "Cartoons are seen as a surefire way to attract children.

"Our research shows 89 per cent of parents believe cartoon characters are put on foods to encourage children to ask for them.

"It found that 75 per cent think it is irresponsible for companies to put cartoon characters on unhealthy foods. An overwhelming 74 per cent of parents felt companies should be stopped from using them in this way."

Which? commissioned experts from the British Heart Foundation and the Health Promotion Research Group at Oxford University to survey the nutritional content of popular foods promoted with cartoon characters.

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Shrek_468x429.jpgShrek has been used to advertise a number of junk food brands including Kellogg's Frosties breakfast cereal



A report entitled Cartoon Heroes and Villains found popular characters were used to promote breakfast cereals which are high in sugar, biscuits that are high in sugar and fat plus sugary sweets and snacks.

For example, the Bratz cartoon dolls featured on the labels of chocolate lollipops, The Simpsons on Butterkist popcorn, Shrek on packets of Frosties cereal and characters from the animated film Flushed Away on Jammie Dodger biscuits.

Which? chief policy adviser Sue Davies said: "There are precious few examples of cartoons being used to promote healthy products.

"Our research shows that the majority are being used to encourage children to eat fatty, sugary and salty foods.

"We are calling on companies to no longer use cartoons to promote unhealthy foods. With parents fed up with the amount of marketing aimed at their children, it also makes commercial sense for cartoon brands to distance themselves from unhealthy food products.

"Regulation should be put in place to protect children from all forms of irresponsible marketing of unhealthy foods."

Companies including Disney and the Co-op have already vowed to move away from allowing cartoon characters to promote junk food.

The BBC has taken a similar line with characters from children's programmes. Disney also ended a partnership with McDonald's which saw models of its characters given away in Happy Meals.

The communications director of the Food and Drink Federation, Julian Hunt, claimed the Which? report was "bizarre".

He said: "The UK already has some of the strictest regulations in the world when it comes to advertising and promoting products to children.

"There are regulations in place that ban the use of licensed characters on TV ads for high fat, sugar and salt products aimed at primary school children or younger.

"The industry has also introduced voluntary restrictions along the same lines for non- broadcast advertising.

"We are disappointed with the timing of this report because we are working with stakeholders, including Which?, via the Department of Health's advertising and promotion forum to look at areas such as packaging."

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