Calls to ban cartoon characters from the packaging of sugar loaded foods aimed at children.

A survey of 186 packaged foods using cartoons to attract kids has found half are classified unhealthy because they either contain too much sugar, fat or salt.

SBS reports more than half of supermarket products marketed at kids are unhealthy, according to a new survey by the Obesity Policy Coalition.

The finding has lead to calls for cartoon characters to be removed from ‘junk food’ packaging.

The OPC surveyed 186 packaged foods with cartoons or character promotions designed to attract children.

It found 52 per cent were classified as unhealthy by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Nutrient Profiling Scoring Criterion calculator.

Foods containing high levels of saturated fat, sugars and sodium typically fall under the unhealthy category.

Nearly 90 per cent of kids’ snack bars, or 26 out of 30 products, were deemed unhealthy.

Unhealthy ice-creams, cheese snacks and kids’ breakfast cereals were also among the biggest culprits of using the “lure” of cartoons.

OPC Executive Manager Jane Martin says given that 27 per cent of Australian children are overweight or obese, it’s “shocking” manufacturers deliberately create pester power to boost sales.

“Children are naturally drawn to fun, colourful characters on food packaging in the supermarket, and food companies are fully aware of this. They know that children have an incredible amount of power over what their parents buy,” said Ms Martin.

She says the Federal Government needs to extend and strengthen existing junk food marketing regulations to restrict the use of cartoons of products targeting children.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council says parents also have control over what they feed their children.

“Parents are best placed to make the right food choices for their kids, and they have a role in using their purchasing discretion to determine what foods they purchase,” a council spokesperson said.

Many comments on the topic are pushing the blame back on parents saying they need to take more responsibility over what their children eat.

“Parental responsibility – tell your kids NO!”

“Pretty simple – say no. My kids have pretty much never had ‘character’ foods.”

“What happened to parents being parents and just saying NO!!”

“They’ve been around for absolute years, why do something about it now? Parents should start being tougher and not giving in to little Timmy screaming his face off at the check out because he wants coco pops.”

Do you agree or should parents just learn to say NO and quit buying these products?

Share your comments below.


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  • so put it on the oats and muesli packs then? lol. random fact- they have toy story characters on bags of apples


  • I just believe the parents should learn to say NO and not give in to their child. Who is in control here? Parents are supposed to be showing a good example to children and rearing them, not the other way round.


  • I suspect they have increased the sugar content in Weetbix but it’s nowhere near as high as other cereals. Porridge is better than most other options.
    I check nutritional values and ingredients on a lot of food including breads, not just cereals. I don’t buy “breakfast on the run” type products and check what is in flavoured milks.


  • And anyway, maybe some parents should learn to say no to their kids.


  • Parents ARE responsible, but there’s nothing wrong with giving them/ us some help!


  • The cartoon characters have never encouraged me or my family to buy cereal. We buy based on nutritional information.

    • And that’s how it should be. But companies find the way to attract kids. And kids influence the parents’ shopping habits.


  • parents are the ones who pay, not the kids so the parents are in control

    I love the characters, but they don’t encourage me or my children to buy the food, they are just pretty packaging!


  • Yes I agree, parents just should learn to say no. Cereals are very unhealthy indeed and I don’t get them except for once in the week weet-bix on Sunday, as a special treat (yes, a special treat doesn’t have to be a chocolate or a lolly, it can be a weet-bix, lol).


  • I’ve got a weetbix kid and thats one of the better cereals. I have no problem saying no to sugar cereal with cartoon characters. In fact I’m pretty great at saying no to lots of things. Treats are way more effective if they are actually treats and not freely available.


  • kids don’t buy the groceries


  • I don’t buy these products. In my idea we’d better avoid buying them. They are just empty calories.


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