Monday, March 14, 2011
Information we already knew--kids prefer cereals that have cartoons on the package. Read the study here: http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/165/3/229
Is it just me, or wasn't it already blatantly obvious that when you use a funny cartoon characters and then load the product up with sugar, that kids are likely to eat it?
I mean, they've been using these cartoons for close to 50 years now. I would think that by this point, if cartoons didn't work to sell junk food, then manufacturers would have abandoned them long ago.
But this study did do something a little different. It invented a cereal box and fictional cereals called "Healthy Bits" and "Sugar Bits." The researchers then tested kids’ responses to the cereal and variations with and without cartoons of the penguins Mumble and Gloria from the movie Happy Feet .
The study, published in the March issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, found that Healthy Bits beat out similar Sugar Bits—with or without the happy little penguins (when Sugar Bits didn't have the penguins.)
So the good news is that it looks like messages about healthy eating habits are reaching kids, who, at least in a clinical setting, want something labeled "healthy" over something labeled "sugar" (but then again, just being labeled "healthy" doesn't actually mean something is "healthy.")
But here's the kicker, while "Healthy Bits" with Penguins outranked "Sugar Bits" without Penguins, once the researchers added penguins to the packaging, Sugar Bits rated as high as Healthy Bits.
So, I guess the message here is that if we want to see kids eat healthy, remove cartoon characters from unhealthy foods, and put cartoon characters on healthy foods.