At a press event Wednesday, first lady Michelle Obama announced that Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) in a two-year agreement to help promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption to kids, making those healthy choices a little easier for parents and families to make.
The announcement comes on the heels of the first ever White House convening on food marketing to children, during which Mrs. Obama called on stakeholders to leverage the power of marketing to promote healthy products and decrease the marketing of unhealthy products to kids.
The agreement allows PMA’s community of growers, suppliers and retailers to use the Sesame Street brand without a licensing fee. This means you and your children may see characters like Big Bird, Elmo and Abby Cadabby promoting fresh fruits and vegetables in your local grocery store as early as mid-2014.
“Just imagine what will happen when we take our kids to the grocery store, and they see Elmo and Rosita and the other Sesame Street Muppets they love up and down the produce aisle,” said Mrs. Obama today. “Imagine what it will be like to have our kids begging us to buy them fruits and vegetables instead of cookies, candy and chips. That’s what this new collaboration between Sesame Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association is all about – showing our kids that healthy food can be fun and that fruits and vegetables don’t just make us feel good, they taste good too.”
In her remarks, the first lady referenced a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine conducted by researchers at Cornell University. Researchers gave kids a choice between eating an apple, a cookie, or both and the vast majority of the kids chose the cookies. But when the researchers put Elmo stickers on the apples and let the kids choose again, nearly double the number of kids went for the apple.
“It’s no secret that many parents have a hard time getting kids excited about eating their fruits and vegetables,” said PHA CEO Lawrence A. Soler. “Today’s commitment helps all of us promote increased fruit and vegetable consumption, and gives parents and families a powerful, positive tool to help kids get excited about eating healthier foods.”
The agreement is the latest step by the private sector to support Let’s Move, the first lady’s nearly 4-year-old campaign to reduce childhood obesity rates in the U.S.
Sesame Workshop’s decision to provide it’s character’s likenesses free of fees is significant in that much of the nonprofit’s funding comes from licensing fees. However, Sesame Workshop has been a champion for kids’ health for years. They also recently partnered with UnitedHealthcare on the Healthy Habits for Life initiative, which includes creating bilingual (English/Spanish) educational materials that encourage children to eat healthy and help parents make fruits and vegetables fun for their children.