Homer Simpson Doesn't Make Your Kid Eat Donuts, Donuts Make Your Kid Eat Donuts

homer simpson fat cartoon kids overweight

Many of the most beloved cartoon characters are on the chubby side: Shrek, Winnie the Pooh, Homer Simpson -- heck, the word "fat" is in Fat Albert's name. And while their roly-poly physiques might seem huggable and cute on TV, a new study suggests that these overweight cartoon characters encourage kids to overeat.

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To reach these conclusions, Margaret Campbell, a marketing professor at the University of Colorado, had kids aged 6 to 14 watch cartoons where some of the characters had the oval "overweight" frame while others were a healthy weight. 

During these cartoons, the children were served cookies and candy -- and kids watching the rotund characters ate twice as many sweets as those who saw the slimmer characters or no cartoon at all.

In other words, fat characters send the message to kids loud and clear: I'm fat, and that's okay! So go ahead and eat another donut. All too soon you'll look just like me!

More from The Stir: 18 Things You Don't Even Realize Are Making Your Kid Fat

Er, so what are we supposed to do here -- ban Winnie the Pooh from your home? Only show your kid skinny cartoon characters? To me, that could backfire badly -- especially in the case of girl cartoon characters, who are often dangerously thin and waaay too sexy ... anyone seen those wasp-waisted Bratz? Want your kids looking like that? Thought not.

And besides, while kids may be impressionable to the messages they see on TV, I think it's a stretch to say they're powerless to resist. Fat Albert doesn't make your kids fat -- donuts do! So rather than blame poor Shrek, why not scrutinize those Ho Hos you brought home -- or your kids' habit of sprawling on the couch in front of the TV rather than playing outside before dinner?

Granted, this study also found that when kids were asked questions about what was better for their health -- say, drinking soda or milk -- prior to watching the cartoons, they were able to curb their junk food consumption in spite of what was on-screen.

Take-home lesson? The messages you send your kids matter far more than what they get from cartoons. And just encouraging your kids to think about their health can keep them from reaching mindlessly for another cookie.

 

Image via PAISAN HOMHUAN/shutterstock

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