Blog Site Discontinued June 23, 2017

Welcome. This blog site, healthy eating and food safety, has been discontinued as of June 23, 2017. I look forward to your comments and feedback regarding use of this tool to disseminate educational information.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Use Popular Characters to Nudge Healthy Food Choices!

Use Popular Characters to Nudge Healthy Food Choices!

Photo by Robyn Wishna
 Kids look up to and often imitate popular characters like Batman, and Elmo. You can channel this admiration by creating an association between healthy foods and favorite, familiar faces!

The Cornell Food & Brand Lab found that when Elmo stickers were placed on apples, kids between the ages of 8 and 11 were nearly twice as likely to select them!

In another study they found that when asked questions such as “what would Batman eat?” 6-12 year olds generally associated healthy foods with heroic characters. Additionally, after being asked these questions, 45% of kids selected apples over fries in the lunchroom. Whereas on a day where no associations were made between healthfulness and heroes, only 9% selected apples over fries!

Here is how to apply these findings to nudge healthy food choices in school and at home:
• Familiarize yourself with popular characters and icons and ask kids what they would eat.
• Make a poster to hang on the refrigerator, in the classroom, or in the school lunchroom that poses the question: “what would (favorite character) eat?
• Place stickers of age appropriate heroes and favorite characters on healthy snack foods whether in the fridge or the fruit bowl. Making the healthy snacks more appealing will make kids more likely to select them!
• For more low-cost no-cost healthy lunchroom solutions visit

Tips from Healthy Food Choices in Schools’ “Favorite Familiar Faces: How to Use Branding and Priming to Promote Healthy Foods” Kelsey Gatto, Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs

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