In accordance with this marketing trend, the entertainment media, particularly television programs and broadcast and cable television networks targeting children and youth, have begun to promote fruit and vegetable consumption and other healthful behaviors. They have also entered into partnerships that feature product cross-promotions, which market new products or products related to those already used by consumers. Certain media outlets use approaches that are based on the finding that children often view food as having physical characteristics as well as social constructs. Sesame Workshop, in partnership with the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), uses its characters to model fun ways to move and play as well as ways to encourage snacks that support a healthful diet (PBH, 2005a). Additionally, PBH is also partnering with Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, to conduct a series of in-store marketing activities using Shrek, Charlie Brown, Spiderman®, Curious George®, and Peter Rabbit™ to promote fruit and vegetable consumption (Childs, 2006; PBH, 2005a). Evaluations of the partnerships, policies, and outcomes related to these interventions are needed.
The Cartoon Network has initiated a healthy lifestyles program called Get Animated that uses celebrity endorsements and partnerships to extend its outreach to children and families to encourage physical activity and making choices that contribute to a healthful diet. In conjunction with its cable television campaign, the network sponsors a nationwide tour of cartoon-based spokescharacters that involve children in various activities to show that fruits, vegetables, and physical activity can be fun and cool (Time Warner, 2006) (Appendix H).
Univision Communications is the leading Spanish-language media company in the United States. (The company’s television operations include the Univision Network, TeleFutura Network, Galavisión, and the Univision and TeleFutura Television Groups. Univision also owns and operates Univision Radio, Univision Music Group, and Univision Online.) The company’s multimedia obesity-related initiatives focus on promoting healthy lifestyles by educating and engaging the Hispanic and Latino communities and engaging individuals in these communities in ways to be healthy. By collaborating with health care organizations, community groups, and allied health professional societies and organizations, the network created several public service announcements, special programs, commercials, and news segments that it regularly features to promote health and nutrition among its primarily Spanish-speaking viewers (Univision Communications, 2003). It also partners with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiative We Can! to inform parents about ways to help them encourage their children to maintain a healthy weight (NHLBI, 2006) (Appendix D).
Some efforts are underway to use storylines and programming that promote healthy lifestyles. Media messages regarding healthy lifestyles are