It has been known by marketers and advertisers that they can make their junk food appealing to children by associating them with their favourite cartoon characters for almost more than half a century. However a study from the journal Paediatric Obesity ” What would Batman eat?: priming children to make healthier fast food choices “ points out that cartoon characters like Batman might be actually used by parents to prime children to make healthier food choices.
In the first phase of the study ” each child was offered the choice of ‘apple fries’ (thinly sliced apples) or ‘French fries’ from a popular fast food restaurant. On each day, each child was privately asked ‘Do you want apple fries or French fries with your lunch? ”
The majority of the kids chose french fries ,as expected, which has almost 10 times the calorific value than an apple fries.
In the later weeks of the study children were primed with “12 photos of 6 admirable and 6 less admirable models and asked, ‘Would this person order apple fries or French fries?’ ”
This was finally followed by the same children being shown ” 12 photos of 6 healthy foods and 6 less healthy foods and asked to indicate if each food was healthy or unhealthy. ”
Now the majority of kids choose “apple fries” -thereby making a healthier choice of food. The control arm of course was by showing pictures of 12 food , 6 health and 6 unhealthy and asking kids if the food was health or unhealthy . This had no effect on choices.
Well this quite adds a very simple (and realistic) solution to parents whose kids are growing obese.
Just ask them : What would Batman eat ? “
However this is just a proof of concept sort of study which actually needs to be validated in the real world and in a larger sample size using similarly populat healther and non-healtiher food in pairs. Moreover such priming as the authors themselves make a fleeting mention of is only temporary. Thus kids might turn back to unhealthy choice sooner than later. However one really wonders from the study why would children associate apple fries with Batman ? (The authors do not provide any rationale for this)
Now that brings us to the basic question of “What does Batman actually eat ? “
Well the best I came up with was in the TangledNoodle Blog which says :
So that goes without saying that it is ultimately within us and it is only our focused attitude and strict discipline which can help us stop being obese. For what all I know of priming is that kids get primed the most seeing adults around them and their habits.
So first ask yourself “What would Batman Eat ?”
Image Courtesy Nashspace under CCL