An organization has come out swinging against “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie,” which it calls “a 90-minute commercial for junk food.”

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is warning parents to beware of what it considers excessive and harmful levels of commercialism in the popular movie, which is based on the Nickelodeon television series.

“Parents who take their children to see the film should expect to be besieged with requests for products from the movie’s promotional partners,” said CCFC’s Dr. Susan Linn, author of “Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood.”

Burger King, Kellogg’s and Keebler have all released special SpongeBob products to coincide with the film, which opened last weekend. They include Kellogg’s SpongeBob SquarePants Movie Cereal, Keebler SpongeBob SquarePants Movie E.L. Fudge Cookies, Kellogg’s SpongeBob SquarePants Movie Rice Krispie Treats, and Kellogg’s SpongeBob
SquarePants Pop Tarts. In addition, Burger King is offering toys and watches at its restaurants.

“It has become commonplace for media characters popular with children to adorn the packages of food products of dubious nutritional value,” said CCFC’s statement. “Ever since rising to superstardom on Nickelodeon, SpongeBob SquarePants has been ubiquitous in grocery stores. In 2002, SpongeBob macaroni and cheese was Kraft’s top-selling pasta brand. SpongeBob also fronts for products such as SpongeBob SquarePants cereal, Cheez-Its, and Wild Bubble-Berry Pop Tarts.”

The organization says a number of children’s health organizations – including the American Academy of Pediatrics – have called for restrictions on food marketing to children.

Alvin Poussaint is a psychiatrist with the Judge Baker Children’s Center.

“The cost of this movie is more than the price of a ticket,” he said. “The nagging that marketers deliberately and effectively cultivate can be extremely stressful for families. And for those parents who give in, there are the potential costs of childhood obesity and its attendant health problems.”

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