Published: March 2016

ID #: 1082

Publisher: Healthy Eating Research

Authors: Kraak VI and Story M

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This issue brief examines the evidence on how food, beverage, restaurant, and entertainment companies have used brand mascots and cartoon media characters to influence children’s diet and health. Brand mascots and media characters represent a broad range of human or fictional kid-friendly animals or animated objects used by companies to market their products. Many of these products are high in added sugars, salt, and fat that contribute to poor diet quality and unhealthy weight gain. While progress has been made by some companies, significant opportunities for improvement still exist. The evidence in the issue brief is based on the findings of two publications that reviewed and evaluated the scientific literature on these topics from 2000 to 2015. The papers also highlight how food, beverage, and restaurant industry leaders can be held accountable for their marketing practices and respond to appeals from parents, public health experts, and consumer groups to strengthen voluntary commitments to ensure that brand mascots and media characters are used responsibly to promote only healthy food and beverage products to children ages 14 and younger.

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