Slapping a cartoon sticker on a piece of healthy food can persuade children to make healthier eating choices. This is the result of a study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine this week.
The study, based out of the US, monitored the eating habits of 208 8-11 year-olds at both suburban and rural schools everyday at lunch for one week. As part of the study, each child was allowed to choose and apple, cookie or both along with their normal meal.
On any given day, the snacks could feature a cartoon sticker with a familiar character. Other days, the snacks featured no sticker at all. At the end of the test, it was determined that “when the snacks weren’t specially marked, 91 percent of children took a cookie and just under one quarter took an apple.” Meanwhile, “when an Elmo sticker was slapped on the apples, 37 percent of children to fruit,” the study reveals.
“If we’re trying to promote healthier foods, we need to be as smart as the companies that are selling the less-healthy foods,” said David Just, co-director of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Program, who worked on the study.
Christina Roberto, a food specialist at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, agrees noting ”It’s not a bad idea to create these positive associations, especially if you’re struggling to get kids to eat healthy foods.”
A similar study recently evaluated children’s likeliness to choose a healthier Happy Meal if a toy was given to them with it. Check out the results of that study here.
Would you slap a sticker on a piece of healthy food to get your kids to eat better?