Published: February 2015

ID #: 1082

Journal: Obes Rev

Authors: Kraak VI, Story M

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This paper examines the influence of cartoon brand mascots and media characters on diet-related cognitive, behavioral, and health outcomes for children ages 2 to 11 through a review of 11 experimental studies published between 2004 and 2014. Researchers categorized results into outcomes such as character or brand recognition, taste or snack preference, food choice, and food or product intake. Studies that measured recognition of popular characters found a high recognition ranging from 60 percent to 90 percent. Results suggest that cartoon media character branding can positively increase children’s fruit or vegetable intake compared with no character branding. However, familiar media character branding is a more powerful influence on children’s food preferences, choice, and intake, especially for unhealthy foods compared with fruits and vegetables. The authors suggest that future research should use a theory-grounded conceptual model and larger and more diverse samples of children to produce stronger findings; and such research could be used to inform stakeholder discussions for using media marketing to support healthy food environments for children.

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