10 Kid-Targeted Junk Foods
Influencing kids’ tastes
These characterssuch as the lovable ogre Shrek, shown at lefthave proven adept at selling food to kids (and their parents). This worries some health experts, in large part because licensed characters appear most often on junk food.
Ninja Turtle Pudding Pies
When food companies put a TV or movie character on the package, they often modify the product itself. The crust of the pudding pie, shown at left, was dyed a delicious turtle green.
That may seem like a positive thing, but some experts say that it will just confuse children in the end. If kids begin to associate SpongeBob with healthy foods such as carrots, the thinking goes, they may end up believing that popsicles are nutritious, too.
The ogre’s mug is so ubiquitous that the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), a Boston-based advocacy organization, launched a Fire Shrek letter-writing campaign in 2007.
The organization identified 17 distinct food promotions pegged to the release of Shrek the Third. Most of the 70 products involved in the promotions were “energy-dense, low-nutrient” foods, the CCFC noted.
Ninja Turtle Cookies
Telling a child not to play with his or her food doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when the food is an edible action figure.
Star Wars Pop-Tarts
But most marketing strategies that use licensed characters are targeted to young kids. Children under age 7 or 8 are the most vulnerable to these sales pitches, experts say.
Surprisingly not green, these Oreos have seemingly little to do with The Hulk. Yet children will still gravitate toward this type of packaging.
That’s why experts are calling for the removal of all such marketing, including endorsements by celebrities, for products aimed at kids.
These breakfast pastries are packed with sugar and contain more than their fair share of fat as well. Despite the best intentions of nutrition-savvy parents, experts say kids are so intent on buying foods with their favorite characters’ faces, they can put up quite the persuasive grocery store meltdown to get their way.
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