Using stickers of popular cartoon characters could help influence children's dietary habits and make them choose healthier foods according to a new study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
The study was conducted by researchers at Cornell University. The researchers offered the choice of cookies or apples during lunch to a group of 208 children between 8 and 11 years of age at suburban and rural schools over a period of one week.
The researchers used cartoon stickers featuring Elmo on the apples or cookies on some days and offered them without any stickers on other days. The researchers found that when there was no sticker, more than 91 percent of the children chose cookies compared to less than a quarter who chose apples. But when the cartoon stickers were used on apples, more than 37 percent of the children took the fruit.
"Branding has tremendous potential to promote healthier eating. We tend to associate mascots and characters with junk food, but they can also be used to build excitement around healthy foods. This is a powerful lesson for fast food companies, food activists and people involved in school food service", lead researcher Brian Wansink said.