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Scooby Doo Helps Peddle Unhealthy Snacks to Kids

Scooby Doo may help solve mysteries, but when it comes to children's nutrition, the lovable pup is no help at all, according to a report published in Pediatrics, which indicates that popular cartoon characters negatively influence kids' food choices.

Scooby Doo may help solve mysteries, but when it comes to children’s nutrition, the lovable pup is no help at all, according to a report published in Pediatrics, which indicates that popular cartoon characters can negatively influence young children’s food preferences.

According the study, which was conducted at Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, branding food packages with characters such as Dora, Shrek and Scooby Doo sways preschoolers to choose energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods and snacks over healthier options.

In the study, a group of children aged 4-6 tasted three pairs of identical foods—graham crackers, gummy fruit snacks, and carrots—presented in packages either with or without a popular cartoon character, then indicated whether the two foods tasted the same or one tasted better, and which of the food items they would prefer to eat for a snack.

The results were telling: “children significantly preferred the taste of foods that had popular cartoon characters on the packaging, compared with the same foods without characters,” with the majority selecting the sample with a licensed character on it for their snack. As a result, researchers suggest that “the use of licensed characters to advertise junk food to children should be restricted.”