According to the UK National Health Service (NHS), 34% of 10 and 11-year-olds are currently classified as obese. The number of obese children in the UK has doubled since 2007, growing from almost 14,000 to over 26,000.
Lidl said the initiative is aligned to its commitment to cut sugar content by 20% in 350 of its own-brand products. It is also aimed to help reduce the ‘pester power’ from nagging children attracted by the cartoons.
Recent research by Action on Sugar and Action on Salt – in association with Children’s Food Campaign – found that 51% of 526 of food and drink products that use cartoon animation on the packaging were ‘unnecessarily’ high in fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt (HFSS). In fact, some of the products that used popular TV and film characters were so high in HFSSs that they were banned from being advertised on TV during children’s programmes or on Transport for London.
The groups asserted manufacturers and retailers were ‘deliberately manipulating children and parents into purchasing dangerously unhealthy products, which can encourage pester power and excessive consumption’.
Another study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine also found that preschoolers who watch TV advertisements for breakfast cereals consume more of the product.
Researchers found that preschool-age kids (3-5 year-olds) who saw TV ads were 34% more likely to eat specific cereals than kids who did not see the ads.
“We want to help parents across Britain make healthy and informed choices about the food they buy for their children,” said Georgina Hall, Lidl’s head of corporate social responsibility.
"We know pester power can cause difficult battles on the shop floor and we're hoping that removing cartoon characters from cereal packaging will alleviate some of the pressure parents are under.
"This latest move underpins our commitment to making good food accessible for everyone and helping customers lead healthier lives."
The cereal products losing their cartoon branding include the retailer’s Crownfield-branded Honey & Peanut Cornflakes, Multigrain Rings, Honey Rings, Choco Rice, Rice Snaps, Frosted Flakes, Honey Rings, Choco Shells and Cereal Cookies.
Lidl will introduce the rebranded packaging from the spring, to ‘allow existing stock to sell through and reduce waste’.
Authors: Jennifer A. Emond, Meghan R. Longacre, Keith M. Drake, et al.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine
Available online December 17, 2018