Tags: kid | food | cartoon | brand | elmo

Kids Pick Healthy Foods Tied to Cartoons

Friday, 31 August 2012 12:52 PM

Taking a cue from junk food marketers – who have used cartoon characters to hawk everything from candy to sugary cereals – advocates for healthier kids’ meals have found using popular children’s characters to promote fruits, veggies and other wholesome items in school cafeterias is an effective way to boost nutrition.
Cornell University researchers who offered children a choice between cookies and apples said kids were more likely to pick the healthier options over sweets if they were “branded” with stickers of popular cartoon characters, such as Sesame Street’s Elmo.
"Nutritionists and school lunch planners can turn the tables on children's poor eating habits by adopting the same 'branding' tactic used by junk food marketers," said Brian Wansink, a food scientist and marketing specialist at Cornell’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management who led the study, published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
For the study, researchers tested the branding technique on 208 boys and girls, ages 8 to 11, from upstate New York over a five-day period. Each day after selecting lunch, the kids had an opportunity to take an apple or cookie, or both. On the first day, they were offered unlabeled cookies or apples. But on other days they offered children apples stickered with a popular children’s character, such as Elmo, or one unfamiliar to the children. On some days, cookies were stickered with familiar characters.
The results showed kids were twice as likely to choose an apple stickered with a popular character, like Elmo, but there was no such effect when the same was done to a cookie or when an unfamiliar character’s image was used in the branding.
Researchers said the finding suggest kids’ choices may be influenced by considering: “What would Elmo eat?” The technique may also work in other settings outside school cafeterias, they said.
"Branding has tremendous potential to promote healthier eating,” Wansink said. “We tend to associate mascots and characters with junk food, but they can also be used to build excitement around healthy foods. This is a powerful lesson for fast food companies, food activists and people involved in school food service."
For more information about eating habits and food marketing, visit: http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/

© HealthDay

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Study finds branding healthy foods with children’s characters is an effective way to boost kids' nutrition.
Friday, 31 August 2012 12:52 PM
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