How To Trick Kids Into Eating Healthy, Even At McDonald's

mcdonalds fries

Photo: By _bubby_ on Flickr

In the last of couple of years, more and more fast food chains have started to offer healthier options. The trick has been to get kids to choose the low-calorie fruit option instead of the delicious serving of fries.Now researchers have come to the rescue, so to speak, with a new study that shows that children are more likely to eat healthy when they associate healthy food with positive role models such as Batman and Superman.

In the study titled “What Would Batman Eat: Priming Children to Make Healthier Fast Food Choices” researchers at Cornell showed children pictures of role models before asking them to choose french fries or apple fries (raw apple slices) as part of their lunch.

In a method known as priming, the children were asked, “would this person order apple fries or french fries?” after each picture was shown. When asked this question, 45 per cent of the children studied chose the apple fries (34 calories) over the french fries (227 calories), compared to 9 per cent when the children were not asked about their role models.

Lead researcher Brian Wansink noted that for a family that eats fast food once a week, switching from french fries to apple slices “could save your children almost three pounds of weight a year.”

According to the study. the results are encouraging for parents who struggle to get their children to make healthy food choices even when they are available:

Fast food patronage is a frequent reality for many children and their parents. Simply instructing a parent to order healthier food for a child is neither empowering for a child nor easy for a parent. Advising a parent to ask their child ‘What would Batman (or another admired character or person) eat?’ might be a realistic step to take in what could be a healthier fast food world.

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