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Childhood obesity: Lidl to remove cartoon characters from cereal boxes | Business


Lidl is to remove cartoon characters from its own-brand cereal ranges to help parents resist pester power and tackle Britain’s growing childhood obesity crisis.

The discount retailer, which has almost 800 UK stores, pledged to remove cartoon characters from eight of its cereal ranges by spring.

The company said it was prompted to take action after nearly three-quarters of parents said their children pressurised them to buy certain items in the supermarket, with more than half believing cartoon characters on packaging encouraged this.

Many of Lidl’s cereals have unhealthy-sounding names that will not be changed – such as Choco Rice, Cereal Cookie, Choco Shells and Frosted Flakes – but the company says that over the last four years it has reduced the sugar content by 20%.

Eating too much sugar contributes to people having too many calories during the day, which can lead to weight gain. Being overweight increases the risk of health problems such as heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer. Sugar is also one of the main causes of tooth decay. 

The NHS advises that most adults and children in the UK eat too much of a type of sugar called ‘free sugars’. These are the sugars added to food and drinks, found in biscuits, chocolate, breakfast cereals and fizzy drinks. But they are also found naturally in honey and unsweetened fruit juices.

The UK government’s recommendation is that these ‘free sugars’ should not make up more than 5% of the calories you have every day. That is still quite a lot of sugar – it equates to seven sugar cubes worth for an adult. But bear in mind that one can of a fizzy drink can include the equivalent of 9 cubes of sugar. Children under 4 should avoid all sugar-sweetened drinks and food with added ‘free sugars’ in it.

Martin Belam

Georgina Hall, Lidl’s head of corporate social responsibility, said: “We want to help parents across Britain make healthy and informed choices about the food they buy for their children. 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.”

In 2014, Lidl said it had become the first supermarket in Britain to remove sweets and chocolates from checkouts nationwide.

Last summer, a survey published by a coalition of health groups found that half of food and drink products with popular cartoon characters such as Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol on their packaging were high in fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt. While unhealthy products featuring licensed characters can appear on shop shelves, they are not allowed to appear in advertising.

Under UK rules, children cannot be targeted with adverts for products that are high in fat, salt and sugar, and licensed characters should not be used to promote such products.



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