'Anorexic' doll sparks outrage

Eating disorder charities are calling for a doll - called 'Nenuco Won't Eat' - which turns its head away when offered food to be banned. 
Photo / Famosa
Eating disorder charities are calling for a doll - called 'Nenuco Won't Eat' - which turns its head away when offered food to be banned. Photo / Famosa

A new doll which turns its head away when offered food has provoked outrage, with critics saying it could encourage young children to develop eating disorders.

Mental health campaigners are calling for the 'Nenuco Won't Eat' doll to be banned on the basis it is "unhealthy".

They are concerned that the toy could encourage or normalise eating disorders in young children and say it is "deeply worrying".

The doll, produced by Spanish firm Famosa, was unveiled at the London Toy Fair yesterday.

It is already for sale across Europe and will be on the shelves of major retailers in the UK from early February.

The baby girl, which will be sold for £34.99 (NZ$69.80), has a magnet in her spoon which causes her head to turn away when a child tries to feed her.

She turns her head away repeatedly until the spoon is correctly aligned with her mouth at which point she eats the food.

The child and adolescent mental health charity YoungMinds has condemned the doll, saying it "promotes unhealthy attitudes towards food".

Chris Leaman, Policy Manager at YoungMinds told MailOnline: "This doll sends the wrong message to children and encourages them to think that refusing food is normal behaviour."

"We would not want children to be influenced by this, and are concerned that it promotes unhealthy attitudes towards food and body image.

'We urge the manufacturers to think more responsibly and be aware of the fact that children are incredibly receptive and that negative attitudes to food can be easily formed and take many years to break.

"Our campaign YoungMinds Vs revealed earlier this week that four out of 10 children and young people have skipped meals to stay thin."

Anita Worcester, from the Somerset and Wessex Eating Disorders Association, told The Sun: "I wouldn't want such a toy on the shelves. Promoting what is basically an anorexic doll seems unhealthy."

A spokesperson for the eating disorder charity B-eat added: "Research shows young children are becoming aware of body image at a much earlier age. A doll that refuses food is hardly a good example to them."

But the UK marketing director for Famosa, Nikki Jeffery, said the aim of the toy was simply to represent real life. She based this argument on the fact babies often reject their food.

She told MailOnline: "The doll is designed to re-enact the play between a parent and a child. The idea is that the child understands that the doll is being mischievous and that the child encourages the doll to eat the food, just as a parent does with their child.

"We believe the doll will teach children the value of eating healthily as it is eating fruit and vegetables.

"I am absolutely not concerned about it promoting eating disorders. Famosa know the doll industry and this has sold all over Europe.

"We are 100 per cent about real life experiences and it's just about having a bit of fun and playing."

- DAILY MAIL

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