Cartoon mascots banned from food packaging in Mexico to fight childhood obesity

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Say goodbye to the Osito Bimbo on your processed pan dulce, to the adorable duckling on your Strawberry and Chocolate Gansito and to the cool penguins on your Pingüinos cupcakes.

Cartoon mascots are a thing of the past now that new regulations are starting to go into effect banning them from food packaging in Mexico. The law, which was passed in 2018, aims to tackle childhood obesity.
Researchers say marketing unhealthy foods to children using cartoon characters influences their decisions about what to eat.

“The branding of familiar media characters has a more powerful influence on children’s food preferences, choices, and intake, especially for energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods (e.g., cookies, candies or chocolate) compared to fruit or vegetables,” researchers at Virginia Tech wrote.

According to a study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Mexico is the second most obese country in the world. The World Health Organization also reports that Mexico has the highest prevalence of overweight and obese children.

Mexico’s packaging markdown also includes popular American mascots, such as Cheetos’ Chester Cheetah and Tony the Tiger on Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes.

The new law recalls the American Medical Association’s campaign to stop the Camel brand from using its cartoon mascot Joe Camel to sell cigarettes. At the time, the association published a report that children aged 3 to 6 recognized the cartoon camel more than Mickey Mouse, Fred Flintstone, Bugs Bunny and Barbie. Joe Cool retired in 1997.

Now we wonder if the Trix Rabbit is taken out of the cereal box, will they also have to change their slogan, “Trix are for kids”, too?

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