Cartoon Mascots Banned from Food Packaging in Mexico to Combat Childhood Obesity

Lead Photo: Art by Alan Lopez for Remezcla
Art by Alan Lopez for Remezcla
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Say adios to the Osito Bimbo on your processed pan dulce, the adorable duckling on your strawberry and chocolate Gansito and the cool penguins on your Pingüinos snack cakes.

Cartoon mascots are a thing of the past now that new regulations are starting to take effect banning them on food packaging in Mexico. The law, which was passed back in 2018, is to help combat childhood obesity.
Researchers say marketing unhealthy foods to children using cartoon characters is influencing their decisions on what to eat.

“Familiar media character branding is a more powerful influence on children’s food preferences, choices and intake, especially for energy-dense and nutrient-poor foods (e.g. cookies, candy or chocolate) compared with fruits or vegetables,” researchers from 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 for overweight and obese children anywhere.

The de-branding of packaging in Mexico also includes popular American mascots, too, like Chester Cheetah from the Cheetos brand and Tony the Tiger on Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes.

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

Now, we’re wondering if the Trix Rabbit is removed from the cereal box, will they also have to change their slogan, “Trix are for kids,” too?