Campaigners are calling for cartoons to be banned from food packaging aimed at children, after half the products were found to be unhealthy.
Of 526 products that feature characters from the likes of Disney, Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol, they found that 51% were high in fat, sugar or salt, their study found.
And half of the products that feature animated figures are so unhealthy they would be banned from advertising on TV or on the Tube in London, according to Action on Salt/Action on Sugar and the Children’s Food Campaign.
They said food firms are “deliberately manipulating children and parents into purchasing dangerously unhealthy products”.
And they want cartoons banned in favour of a traffic light system showing fat, salt and sugar content.
Their study found that one Dr Moo Quick Milk Magic Sipper Strawberry Straw, featuring a cartoon cow, has 5.6g of sugar – nearly 30% of the suggested daily level for four to six-year-olds.
Organix Goodies Apple & Orange Soft Oaty Bars, which show a cartoon girl, have 8.1g per 30g – over 50% of the daily level.
Tom Watson, deputy Labour leader, backed the campaign, saying: “We’re in the midst of a child obesity crisis and companies are using cartoons to advertise junk foods to kids. It’s time we changed the rules.”
Barbara Crowther, of CFC, said: “Parents tell us how their kids’ favourite characters result in pestering for sweets, and they overwhelmingly support the ban.
“It’s time for the Government to… underpin advertising restrictions with similar rules for packaging.”
A blanket ban would see the images on favourites such as Tony the Tiger on Kellogg’s Frosties and McVitie’s Penguin bars outlawed.
Andrew Opie, of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Banning all cartoon characters would be unnecessarily heavy-handed.”
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