Popular characters can help kids eat healthy foods too

Popular characters can help kids eat healthy foods too
Branding tactics used to sell junk food also may be used to promote better nutrition, research shows.

(HealthDay) -- Superheroes and other popular kids' characters have been used to sell junk food, candy and other sugary treats to children for decades, but new research shows they also can be used to promote healthier eating habits.

In a new study, researchers found the strategy can be used in schools to help students improve their nutrition.

"Nutritionists and school-lunch planners can turn the tables on children's poor eating habits by adopting the same 'branding' tactic used by marketers," study lead author Brian Wansink, professor of marketing at the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., said in a university news release.

In conducting the study, the researchers let children choose between cookies and apples. Some children were offered plain apples and cookies. Others were told to select either cookies or Elmo apples, which had stickers of the popular Sesame Street character on them. The study found that Elmo got more kids to choose the apples over the cookies.

"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 activists and people involved in school food service."

The study was published recently in the journal .

More information:
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about child nutrition.

Related Stories

Eat healthy -- your kids are watching

date May 30, 2012

If lower-income mothers want kids with healthy diets, it's best to adopt healthy eating habits themselves and encourage their children to eat good foods rather than use force, rewards or punishments, says a Michigan State ...

Seeing certain foods prompts kids to eat healthier

date Jul 25, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Just because healthful foods are available in school cafeterias doesn't mean children are going to eat them, but in some cases, the very presence of such foods as whole fruit may actually prompt kids to ...

Recommended for you

Cribs are for sleeping, car seats are for traveling

date 20 hours ago

Sleep-related deaths are the most common cause of death for infants 1-12 months of age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep on their back on a firm mattress, without loose bedding. However, many ...

One child in five still not vaccinated: WHO

date Apr 22, 2015

One-fifth of the world's children are still not receiving routine life-saving vaccinations and efforts to ensure global immunisation coverage remain "far off track," the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

Reducing school bus pollution improves children's health

date Apr 22, 2015

Use of clean fuels and updated pollution control measures in the school buses 25 million children ride every day could result in 14 million fewer absences from school a year, based on a study by the University ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.