Manga comics may help promote fruit consumption among youth

A recent pilot study in Brooklyn, New York, with minority students found that exposure to Manga comics (Japanese comic art) promoting fruit intake significantly improved healthy snack selection. As snacking accounts for up to 27% of children's daily caloric intake, and childhood obesity has been linked to inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables, the results of this study could have wide-reaching implications.

"Manga comics could be used to promote healthier behaviors and beliefs related to fruit consumption in at-risk youth. The graphics and minimal text make it a promising format to engage younger populations," said lead author May May Leung, PhD, RD, City University of New York School of Public Health and Hunter College.

The study was set in two after-school programs affiliated with Brooklyn Community Services, a New York City-based nonprofit community organization, in the summer and fall of 2011. It comprised 57 youth, approximately 11 years of age, nearly 90% of whom were either Black/African American or Hispanic and 54% were female. The school districts in the study had greater percentages of students eligible for free lunch (79 and 96%, respectively) compared to the citywide average of 66%.

The researchers used an innovative intervention promoting positive dietary behaviors to capture the attention of youth living in a multimedia environment; specifically, Manga comics, which are Japanese comic art. Manga is a unique form of multimodal narrative media combining visual images and text. According to the Transportation-Imagery Model, persuasion of a story's messages occurs because an individual is ''transported'' or immersed into the narrative world, and images in a story are impactful in influencing behavior, which is why Manga was selected for this study.

After reading either a Manga comic, titled "Fight for Your Right to Fruit," or a non-health-related newsletter, children were given the choice between a healthy snack (oranges, grapes, apples, strawberries) or an energy-dense snack (cookies, potato chips, nacho chips, and cheese-filled crackers). Sixty-one percent of children in the comic group chose a after reading, opposed to just 35% of the control group.

Approximately 30% to 45% of US children between the ages of 6 and 18 years do not meet recommended fruit consumption levels. Therefore, the results of this study could be useful in promoting healthy decision-making among youth as it relates to food consumption. However, because this was a pilot study, studies with a larger sample size are necessary, as are studies examining the effects of more traditional media.

More information: "Manga Comic Influences Snack Selection in Black and Hispanic New York City Youth," by May May Leung, PhD, RD; Gina Tripicchio, MSEd, MS; Alen Agaronov, MS, RDN; Ningqi Hou, PhD, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2013.11.004, Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, published online ahead of Volume 46, Issue 2 (March/April 2014)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Combo-snacks of cheese and vegetables cut kids calories

Dec 17, 2012

Want your children to be healthier snackers? A new Cornell study finds that serving children combined snacks of vegetables and cheese led them to eat 72 percent fewer calories—and be just as satisfied as those who were ...

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's super hero sexism

Dec 21, 2011

As parents do their final holiday shopping, comic books, and their related superhero-themed toys and children's gear, continue to be popular. From Batman rain boots and Legos, to paperback books about Wonder Woman, many stores ...

The tomboy in manga for teens: Kaleidoscopic bodily styles

Oct 15, 2012

Ylva Sommerland, from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, has studied the tomboy in manga, a girl manoeuvring in masculine situations. The study concerns sports manga and fantasy manga for teens – genres that offer plenty ...

Recommended for you

AMA examines economic impact of physicians

8 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Physicians who mainly engage in patient care contribute a total of $1.6 trillion in economic output, according to the American Medical Association (AMA)'s Economic Impact Study.

Less-schooled whites lose longevity, study finds

8 hours ago

Barbara Gentry slowly shifts her heavy frame out of a chair and uses a walker to move the dozen feet to a chair not far from the pool table at the Buford Senior Center. Her hair is white and a cough sometimes interrupts her ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

9 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

User comments