British organisation Action on Sugar has urged companies to completely eliminate the use of child-friendly packaging from breakfast cereals and yoghurt products with high/medium sugar contents.

The Queen Mary University of London-based organisation has released new research, which claims that cereals and yoghurt products with packaging that appeal more to kids mostly contain ‘unnecessary’ amounts of sugars.

As part of this research, Action on Sugar collected and assessed some of the products against its inclusion and exclusion criteria from October 2022 to February 2023.

The study revealed that 47% of surveyed cereals contain one-third of a four to six-year-old child’s daily maximum sugar recommendation in one bowl, excluding milk.

Meanwhile, nearly 65% of yoghurts surveyed had one-third of a four to six-year-old child’s daily maximum sugar recommendation, as per the brand’s recommended serving.

Out of all the surveyed child-friendly cereals and yoghurts, only nine cereals and six yoghurts contained less sugar.

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Only four cereal products overall were found to be low in both sugar and salt content.

Action on Sugar campaign lead and registered nutritionist Dr Kawther Hashem said: “Given the soaring numbers of under-18s suffering weight-related health problems and tooth decay being the leading cause of child hospitalisation, now is time for companies to be forced to remove child-appealing packaging from products that are misleading parents and making our children unhealthy and sick.”

The accused companies and brands use cartoon characters, animations, and vibrant colours to attract young children’s attention. These marketing tactics, called ‘pester power’, also influence the purchasing preferences of the child’s parents or guardians. 

Such products currently have no specific restrictions that govern their visual appeal and design.

A possible solution could be to divert this visually captivating packaging towards healthier food products, Action on Sugar noted.