A campaign group has called for a ban on using cartoon characters on packaging to market unhealthy food products to children.

According to Action on Sugar and Action on Salt, their new research carried out by Queen Mary University of London, in association with the Children’s Food Campaign, shows that half of more than 500 food and drink products that use cartoon animations on packaging are very high in fat, saturated fat, sugar and/or salt.

Some products using popular TV and film characters such as Peppa Pig Candy Bites are 99% sugar and the group says half of all the products are so unhealthy they couldn’t be advertised on TV during children’s programmes, or on Transport for London ads.

Salt offenders include Peperami Tex-Mex Snack Pack which is packaged with an image of Peperami’s animal mascot wearing a Mexican sombrero. At 2.15g salt per bag, just half a bag would provide a one to three-year-old with over 50% of their maximum daily intake.

Action on Sugar, Action on Salt and the Children’s Food Campaign are calling on the Government to ban cartoon characters on packaging that markets unhealthy products to children, and to mandate “traffic light” nutrition labelling.

Barbara Crowther from the Children’s Food Campaign said, “Disney, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and all the food brands know how much power these cartoon characters have on children’s preferences. That’s why millions of pounds change hands in licensing deals each year. Parents tell us how their kids’ favourite characters result in pestering for sweets, snacks and fast foods, and they overwhelmingly support the idea of a ban. The food industry has had every opportunity to act, but this research clearly shows it’s not enough. It’s time for the Government to step in, and underpin tighter advertising restrictions with similar rules for packaging and promotions”.

Last reviewed 12 June 2019