Heroes Wanted: What Would Batman Eat?
July 22, 2012

Heroes Wanted: What Would Batman Eat?

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

The Baby Boomer generation had Popeye to inspire them to eat their spinach. However, today's children do not have role models when it comes to healthy eating habits and good food choices.

According to Brian Wansink, Cornell professor of marketing, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab: "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 parents to ask their child, 'What would Batman eat?' might be a realistic step to take in what could be a healthier fast-food world."

Wansink, along with post-doctoral researcher Mitsuru Shimizu and visiting graduate student Guido Camps of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, conducted a study in which 22 children, ages 6 to 12, at a summer camp were asked if they wanted apple fries or French fries during several consecutive Wednesday lunches.

After being shown pictures of superheroes and role models with the apple fries, 45 percent of the children selected the healthier choice. Without the accompanying imagery, only 9 percent chose the healthier option.

"On average, children who selected apple fries consumed only 34 calories whereas children who selected French fries consumed 227 calories. That's almost seven times as many calories just from the side dish of the meal," Wansink said. "If you eat fast food once a week, a small switch from French fries to apple fries could save your children almost three pounds of weight a year."

The findings of the study appear in a paper titled "What would Batman eat? Priming children to make healthier fast food choices," which is published in the journal Pediatric Obesity.

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