The allure of Elmo is indeed great. But I wasn’t aware of just how persuasive the little Muppet can be until I read that according to research, kids will voluntarily choose to eat broccoli over chocolate if the green stuff is packaged in a bag stamped with his furry face. Magical. Of course, that means kids will also choose the not-so-healthy foods that bare the likeness of their favourite character. A study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that animated characters like Shrek and Dora the Explorer can influence kids’ perceptions of how food products taste, reports the CBC. The study’s researchers gave preschoolers foods such as gummy snacks, graham crackers and carrots’some of the snacks were packaged in plain wrappers and some were presented in packages with licensed cartoon characters. Researchers found that kids said they like the foods with characters on them better than the same food in plain packaging.
It’s clear that advertisers using licensed characters have incredible power over what kids choose to eat. How can parents compete with Dora to help their children make smart food choices, regardless of what’s on the package?