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Health Groups Really Don’t Like Cartoon Characters Advertising Sweets

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Peppa Pig’s sweets come under public health fire over sugar Peppa Pig/Entertainment One

Sweets that use cartoons for advertising ... Contain sugar!

A “coalition of health groups” has criticised various sweets for both containing sugar and using popular cartoon characters to advertise that sugar more effectively. Action on Sugar, Action on Salt and the Children’s Food Campaign surveyed over 500 products deemed to be “child-friendly” and found that “over half” (51 percent) did not meet recently introduced health requirements for advertising on Transport for London, nor during children’s television programmes. There is already regulation in place to cover the latter, so these products are not being advertised during children’s television programmes regardless.

Examples singled out are illuminating. Peppa Pig Candy Bites were criticised for containing 99 percent sugar. Mini chocolate bars branded with Paw Patrol characters provide 38 percent of a four-to-six year-old child’s daily sugar intake per bar. A Dr Moo Magic Sipper — a sugared strawberry milkshake straw — contains 94 grams of sugar per 100 grams of product, but the actual product weighs 6 grams. Bazooka Candy Brands International — the manufacturer for Peppa Pig confectionary — has not commented.

Dr Kather Hashem, a nutritionist and campaign lead at Action on Sugar, said: “It’s shocking that companies are exploiting the health of our children by using cartoon characters on their high-sugar food and drink products, particularly on chocolates and sweets, which are already hard to resist for children. Do we really need to entice children to want these products more and pester their parents to buy them?”

There clearly needs to be a redress of balance in terms of the kinds of products advertised with popular characters; companies’ use of those characters is unabashedly cynical. Hashem’s comments also bring up the actual link between advertising and consumption. As much as children can pester parents who are in a financial position to make a choice between Nickelodeon-approved candy and, say, a piece of fruit, this survey contains no information on its cited Bad Products’ actual market share, and the data backing up parental concerns over engrossed children comes from a 140 person online survey with no breakdown for income brackets. [Guardian]

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