Children eat more cookies and candy after observing plump cartoon characters, concludes a University of Colorado study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.
Children 8, 12 and 13 years old ate “almost twice as much indulgent food as kids who are exposed to perceived healthier looking cartoon characters or no characters at all,” said researcher Margaret C. Campbell.
However, taking a quiz on health knowledge erased the effect of looking at an ovoid cartoon character. Children were asked to choose the healthier option represented in pictures and words — such as getting your sleep versus watching TV, soda versus milk and playing inside versus playing outside.
Parents “should think about the way they might be associating food with fun for kids — in the form of exposure to cartoon characters, for instance — as opposed to associating food with nutrition and the family structure,” said Campbell.
She praised Kellogg’s for making Tony the Tiger slimmer and more athletic, though he’s still promoting Frosted Flakes. Was Tony ever plump? I don’t recall that.