Turns out that TV and movies may not have an entirely negative impact upon kids – super heroes such as Batman and Spiderman could actually have their uses. Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab recently conducted a study that found that superheroes could actually encourage kids to eat healthy.
Cartoon characters could have a positive impact on children’s food habits
Usually cartoon characters are used to advertise junk food to kids. However the reverse could be true as well. Since these popular children’s characters have so much of an impact, they can be used for the good of kids as well.
This study observed that kids can be ‘primed’ to make healthier food choices for themselves with the help of comic book heroes and other cartoon characters. Researchers asked kids if they wanted to eat French fries or sliced apples, and not surprisingly, most kids picked fries.
However in the next instance, kids were asked beforehand what Batman would eat and were then offered the food choice. This time around, nearly half the kids opted for the healthier snack of sliced apples. The difference was that in the first instance more kids ate about 227 calories (from the fries) and in the second instance, almost half the kids consumed only 34 calories (from the apples).
The study’s lead author Brian Wansink has also pointed out how the size of the plate as well as the color of food could impact how much we eat.
So next time you have to give in to your child’s entreaties for a fast food meal, preface the ordering with the question – “What would Batman eat?” After all Popeye made a whole generation more receptive to eating spinach!
Other tips to get kids to eat healthy
Pack a school lunch for your child rather than letting them eat from the school cafeteria. Also consult with the moms of your child’s friends and make healthy choices together. Peer pressure is a very important factor that influences a child’s food choices.
When your child asks for a snack at home make sure you have enough stock of healthy foods. Rather than cookies, cakes and chips, stock up on fruit, dried fruits and nuts; even muesli. Remember a child is more receptive to new tastes when they are hungry.
Persist in offering healthier snacks and you may well find that your child comes to like that banana snack so much that he or she picks it over other foods.