Skip to main content

Call for cartoon ban on food packaging backed by Teesside academic

04 June 2019 @TeessideUni


Calls for a ban of the use of cartoons to market unhealthy food products to children have been backed by a Teesside University academic.

Dr Amelia Lake
Dr Amelia Lake

Dr Amelia Lake, a Reader in Public Health in Teesside University’s School of Science, Engineering & Design, is supporting a campaign calling for an end to the use of cartoons and popular children’s characters to target children.

A report published today by Action on Salt, Action on Sugar and Children’s Food Campaign reveals that 75 percent of food and drink products which display cartoons or animated television characters include confectionery, chocolate, ice-cream, desserts and sweet baked goods.

More than half of the 500 products looked at were found to be high in fat, saturated fat, sugar and/or salt – with just 18 healthy food and drink products, such as fruit, vegetables and water, displaying cartoons on their packaging.

The research also found that more than half of the products would not be advertised during children’s TV programmes, because they are so unhealthy.

The report calls on the Government to ban use of cartoon animations on packaging containing unhealthy foods and to mandate ‘traffic light’ nutrition labelling.

Manufacturers and retailers are accused in the report of manipulating children and parents into purchasing unhealthy products by encouraging pester power.

Dietician and public health nutritionist Dr Lake, who is also Associate Director for Fuse, The Centre for Translational Research in Public Health, said: 'As a health professional and a mum, I know how challenging ‘pester power’ can be from children. While it is up to parents to make decisions about the diets of their children, is it really ethical that food companies be marketing to children?

The way cartoon characters are used to target children really needs to be looked at

Dietician and public health nutritionist Dr Amelia Lake

'The way cartoon characters are used to target children really needs to be looked at. There is definitely scope for the food industry to look towards positive marketing to encourage children and young people to be interested in healthier products through the use of these cartoons. Why are they mainly being used to sell unhealthy products?'

She added: 'Traffic light labelling would make it easier for parents to choose healthier products. It can be quite challenging when shopping to examine labels fully when choosing products, so to be able to glance at labels and see the traffic light colours would really help when making healthier food choices.'

Dr Lake’s research to help prevent obesity was recently highlighted as being among the Nation’s Lifesavers in Universities UK’s MadeAtUni campaign which celebrated the top 100 individuals or groups based in universities whose work is saving lives and making a difference to health and wellbeing.

In the News

Cartoon marketing ban calls made
Northern Echo, p7, 7/6/2019, BBC Tees, 6/7/2019
Dr Amelia Lake is supporting a campaign calling for an end to the use of cartoons and popular children's characters to target children.