March 8th, 2011

Cereal with cartoons on the box tastes better to kids: study

New York Daily News

Cereal companies know that putting a cartoon character on the box makes it more appealing to kids.

Now a new study suggests the child-friendly figures make the cereal taste better, too.

Children ages 4 to 6 who ate cereal from a box with pictures of dancing penguins plastered across the front said they enjoyed it more than those who ate the same item from a no-frills box, the researchers reported Monday.

“The results of this experiment provide evidence that the use of popular characters on food products affects children’s taste,” the authors wrote in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

The study surveyed 80 youngsters, feeding them the same cereal from different boxes.

In one experiment, one was labeled Healthy Bits and one Sugar Bits. The kids liked the Sugar Bits more, and the researchers think that’s because they’re often told sugar is bad for them.

Nicholas Freudenberg, a public health professor at Hunter College, wasn’t surprised by the study’s findings.

“The use of these cartoon characters influences children’s judgement and they don’t have the experience to discount advertising,” he said.

“It’s really a way food companies bypass parents through advertising.”

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