Toon ogre promotes exercise, junk food

Shrek is sending kids — and some adults — mixed messages this summer.

In February, DreamWorks Animation’s green ogre and friends launched a public service announcement for the Dept. of Health and Human Services encouraging kids to exercise. The spot’s still airing.

But then in April, he started spreading the word that junk food’s good, too, appearing on packages of M&Ms and Snickers candy, boxes of sugary Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes cereal, Pop-Tarts, Cheez-Its crackers and Keebler cookies and cans of Sierra Mist soda, in order to promote “Shrek the Third,” out May 18.

This month, Shrek’s somewhere in the middle: McDonald’s, the world’s largest burger chain, will use him to promote sal-ads, chicken sandwiches, desserts and a healthy line of Happy Meals filled with apple slices, chicken McNuggets and milk.

Watchdog group the Campaign for a Commer-cial-Free Childhood has already raised its fists, calling Shrek a bad role model, but HHS defends the ogre’s food choices by saying, “We have always promoted a balanced, healthy diet, which does not necessarily exclude the occasional treat.”

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