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Even Scooby-Doo can't get kids to eat their carrots [news]

Children can be influenced to eat sugary snacks that carry stickers of cartoon characters such as Shrek, Scooby-Doo or Dora the Explorer, but not healthier foods like carrots with similar stickers, according to a new Yale University study. Researchers at Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity asked children ages 4 to 6 which snacks they wanted: gummy fruit, graham crackers or carrots labeled with stickers of the cartoon characters, or identical snacks without the stickers. They also asked which tasted better.

Most of the 40 children wanted the snacks labeled with cartoon stickers. Most also said the gummy fruit and graham crackers with the stickers tasted better, but not the carrots.

``We now have clear evidence of something many people suspected -- that the use of these licensed characters has an impact on children's preferences in food,'' said Dr. Thomas Robinson, director of the Center for Healthy Weight at Stanford University School of Medicine.