Want to encourage your kids to eat different foods? The key is to add a popular TV cartoon character to the packaging.
Adding characters like Dora the Explorer or Shrek makes kids think the food tastes better, according to a study from Yale University for the Rudd Center for Food Policy.
The findings follow previous studies that show that children are more likely to pick up a food featuring their favourite character then a plain package. These two studies clearly show the influence advertising and merchandising can have on a child's food choices. The researchers behind the study are now calling for a limit on licensed characters on junk food packaging.
Researchers gave children aged 3 to 6 two samples of Graham Crackers, gummy fruit snacks, and baby carrots. The packaging for each pair looked almost identical, except one of each has a cartoon character sticker on the packaging. The results showed that the majority of children said the food with the character on the package tasted better, and they'd pick it for a snack.
Interestingly, the link between popularity and cartoon character packaging is weaker on the carrots. This could be due to the rarity of cartoon characters on healthy vegetable snacks.
What do you think? Should there be a ban on children's characters on food packaging?