In a bid to help banish childhood obesity, supermarket retailer Asda is banning cartoon characters from its own-brand sweets, flavoured milk and ice-cream.
The move follows continued pressure from health campaigners after the supermarket removed cartoons from its own-label cereal boxes last year.
Anyone who has ever doubted the power of packaging design has clearly never tried to herd their kids through a supermarket and remain unmolested by insistent-to-the-point-of-tantrum demands for sugar-based snacks, mostly due to the dazzling design of their packaging.
Indeed, while retail packaging is created to catch the eye in order to increase sales, children are particularly easily influenced by such psychological ploys and exciting, colourful designs, particularly those featuring some kind of superhero-esque figure or, in the case of the soon-to-change Asda Unicorn ice-cream, fanciful mythical creatures become desired to the point of obsession. As such, campaigners want to make life easier for parents being pestered to buy the wrong things by little George lying face-down on the floor in floods of tears.
“There’s a lot of research that shows kids are taken with animals pictured on food wrapping and cartons and pester parents to buy the products, but they don’t care what’s inside.” says Tam Fry, Chairman of the National Obesity Forum.
“What Asda and Lidl have done is a step in the right direction, but more could be done – others need to follow suit and I would also like to see more sugar removed from cereals. The overall cost of obesity and related illnesses is £24 billion a year but the Government is doing nothing about it.”
Asda nutritionist, Beth Fowler, adds: “Following the removal of cartoon characters and reducing sugar content of our own-brand cereals early 2020, we have taken the decision to extend the initiative across additional own-label lines such as ice-creams, lollies, confectionery and flavoured milk drinks.
“Being one of the UK’s largest supermarkets, we recognise our responsibility to help our customers to make better choices for themselves and their families. We see the removal of characters from specific product categories as another step on our journey towards making healthier choices easier.”