11:13am

Thu July 19, 2012
Health (and Batman...)

Study Asks WWBE?

WWBE? Yup, What Would Batman Eat? That’s the question posed by a new study published in the journal Pediatric Obesity.

The study explores if showing photos of superheroes like Batman to children, then asking them what that superhero would eat, affects a child’s food choices. The goal was to determine if children could be ‘primed’ to choose healthier foods if they thought a superhero would do the same.

Going to a fast food restaurant is common for families, with many going at least once a week. Although restaurants are introducing healthier options including apple slices and mac and cheese, those items are often passed over for a burger and fries.

During the study, 22 children ranging in age from 6 to 12 years old were shown photos of “6 admirable, and 6 less admirable” role models. The children were then asked, “Would this person order apple fries or french fries?”  

According to Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab, the study was performed as follows:

The children’s responses were recorded with the hypothesis that children who thought admirable models would eat healthily would activate positive associations towards healthy food and become more likely to choose apple fries over French fries. The researchers were right! When encouraged with the right prompting, children can make the right decision. On the week each child was primed with photos of the models, 10 children, or 45.5%, selected apple fries. This effect was more pronounced among children who thought admirable models would always eat healthy food than those who did not.

The researchers also found that children could correctly answer if photos of certain types of food were healthy or  unhealthy (showing they understood the difference). However, when asked to choose apple fries or french fries after seeing those photos, only 18% of the children chose to eat the healthier apple fries.

With that data, the study concluded that parents might just find it easier to get their children to eat healthier foods at a fast food restaurant if they ask, “What would Batman eat?”