Page last updated at 01:32 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 02:32 UK

Cartoon food adverts criticised

Obese boy
Which? wants to see the characters promoting healthier products

Advertising cartoon characters are failing to promote healthy eating in children, a consumer group has said.

A Which? report accused creations such as Tony the Tiger, Moo the Dairylea cow and Snap, Crackle and Pop of not aiding the fight against childhood obesity.

Researchers said that out of 19 characters used by food companies, not one promoted healthier products.

The Food and Drink Federation said it was "baffled as to why Which? wants to take all the fun out of food".

'Act responsibly'

Which? said Dairylea Lunchables chicken 'n' cheese wraps contained more than a third of the maximum amount of salt a seven to 10-year old should consume.

Tony the Tiger's Frosties contained a third sugar, it said.

The organisation also singled out breakfast cereal characters Honey Monster (Sugar Puffs) and Coco the Monkey (Coco Pops).

If the industry fails to act, the government must step in
Clare Corbett

Clare Corbett from Which? said: "Cartoons are great fun for kids. We definitely don't want to see the end of popular characters like Tony the Tiger and the Honey Monster, but we do want to see them promoting healthier products.

"Food companies must play their part in the fight against childhood obesity and diet-related disease by acting responsibly."

She added: "If the industry fails to act, the government must step in."

Julian Hunt, of the Food and Drink Federation, said the industry's codes placed strict restrictions on marketing and were independently policed.

"Many of the products mentioned in this report have changed their recipes in recent years to be healthier - something for which they never get any credit," he said.

'No magic bullet'

Cereal maker Kellogg's said many of its characters had been created before the child obesity problem emerged.

A spokeswoman said: "Tony the Tiger first appeared on our cereals in the 1950s, Snap, Crackle and Pop appeared in the 30s and Coco the Monkey has been on our packaging for more than 20 years.

"These characters pre-date the childhood obesity problem we face. Banning characters such as Tony from advertising is not the magic bullet we all seek.

"The fact that Ofcom set no restrictions on the use of these kinds of characters in advertising during its recent review would seem to support our view."

The Advertising Standards Authority said the Which? report "is not saying anything new".

A spokesman said: "The rules surrounding food and soft drink advertising to children were significantly tightened only last year following a review of all the evidence and extensive public consultation, including input from Which?.

"These robust new rules are amongst the toughest in the world - such as a ban on all 'high in fat, sugar and salt' advertising during children's programming - providing a very high level of protection."

Child obesity 'a major problem'
21 Feb 08 |  Health
Salt 'could fuel child obesity'
21 Feb 08 |  Health

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The Sun 'Sugary' Tony not gr-r-reat - 40 hrs ago
Telegraph Cartoon characters danger - 43 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Call to ban use of cartoons to sell unhealthy food to children - 43 hrs ago
The Scotsman Food firms under fire over 'unhealthy' cartoon adverts - 43 hrs ago
Star-TelegramBuck & New Dawg: Complain? Old-school Marion Barber refuses to whine - 65 hrs ago
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