Here’s the good news: Efforts to reduce the number of TV ads that entice kids to crave sugary cereals and snacks have largely paid off.

Now the bad news: Cross-promotions on food packaging targeted at children have increased by
a whopping 78% between 2006 and 2008, according to a study from Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy.

Cross-promotions aimed at kids typically use
licensed cartoon and movie characters as well as
tie-ins to other TV shows, sports teams, theme parks, toys and games. Rather than buying conventional ads that appear in between kids’ TV programs, these sly cross-promotions prominently feature
unhealthy products as a part of the story line and programming.

Next time you’re watching a show with your kids, check for the subliminal promotions that show TV characters and actors munching on M&Ms® candy
or quaffing branded sugary beverages. And take a moment to point out such flagrant examples to your impressionable brood and teach them how to avoid being duped by these crass cross-promotions.