Should Cartoon Characters Be Banned From Kids' Food? We Asked Parents

We asked parents if Tony the Tiger and the Milky Bar Kid should be banned from kids' food.

Cartoon characters, such as ‘Tony the Tiger’ of Kelloggs Frosties fame, should no longer be used to promote unhealthy food, according to a group of MPs.

The health select committee says there should be a ban on “brand-generated characters or licensed TV and film characters” including the Honey Monster and Nestle’s Milky Bar Kid, unless they are promoting healthy foods (such as the Jolly Green Giant on sweetcorn).

In a bid to reduce childhood obesity, they also recommend there should be no junk food adverts on TV before 9pm, that junk food promotions should be restricted, and that supermarkets should stop positioning sweets near checkouts.

HuffPost UK asked parents: would you support a ban on cartoon characters on unhealthy food marketed at children and would it make your life easier?

Here’s what they said:

Lorelei Jones - “I support a ban but it’s not the only answer”.

“I have children and I think it is a good idea. I would definitely support it. But children who eat really badly, it’s often because they’re poor - and banning junk food isn’t the most effective thing you can do for them. I think more Sure Start centres and free school meals is going to make things better.

“Sometimes I find it hard to feed my children healthy food and quite expensive to buy lots of fruit and vegetables, and I don’t like it going to waste either. So I do tend to fill them up with things that are cheap.

“It’s a real challenge trying to feed children, it’s not easy - especially when you’re busy. I try to give them porridge and eggs, but to do that day in day out is really challenging.”

Julie Antonio- “Yes, because the kids in my school are tempted by junk food marketing”.

“100%, yes [I would support a ban on cartoon characters on packs].

“It’s all child-friendly, the advertising. The children come to school [where I’m a teaching assistant] and they’ve already had chocolate bars and crisps on the way to school at age three and four.

“The amount of sugar - even in drinks like Capri Sun [is a problem]. All the branding is child friendly and it’s what they see [that makes them think] ‘I want one of those’ - it’s what they see on the TV.”

Habiba Ali - “I don’t want my toddler bombarded with ads”.

“I have one 21 month old daughter. I don’t see anything wrong with associating characters with children’s food, as long as the food is actually nutritious and good for the child. I’m happy for brands to keep their cartoons as long as they put the child’s best interests at heart.

“All these cereals that attract kids using the cartoons but really they’re full of sugar and very little fibre - I’m against that.

“It’s precisely for this reason that I don’t take my daughter shopping with me, as I don’t want her to start associating cartoons with food. I’m also very selective about what she watches - it’s educational, or about going outdoors - it’s not just watching TV for four or five hours and seeing all the ads.

“I want her to grow with a holistic view of life and I don’t want her to be bombarded. I work in marketing, so I know all the tricks and the tactics. I’m very selective about what I market - I think marketing is amazing, as long as there’s an ethos about it and children are put first, not profits.

James Hall - ‘I think junk food should be taxed first’

“It strikes me as a pretty minor issue in the whole marketing of food. It seems to be the only way of squashing it is to heavily tax junk food and everything else is just fiddling at the edges.

“I haven’t particularly noticed that my son buys cereal because of any particular marketing gimmicks. I think with extremely young children it is shocking. But because the government believes in no intervention nothing ever happens and I think they’ve got to really start taking in the same way as with alcohol and cigarettes. Obesity is a far more serious crisis. And yet we’re not doing anything.”