If tackling childhood were a mere matter of suggestion, numbers would surely be going down. But healthy foods aren’t easily accepted by the growing number of children constantly targeted by fast food and processed food companies. Despite overwhelming odds, scientists may have finally found a solution: smiley faces charm children into eating healthier foods, a new study shows.
The fact that poor food choices both at home and in school cafeterias promote childhood obesity is already common knowledge. But aiding children with their decisions and gently guiding them towards nutritious meals could make a tremendous difference.
Smiley faces help children gravitate towards better food choices, a recent paper presented at the San Diego meeting of the Paediatric Academic Society shows. The research team conducted a two-phase trial where kindergarten- through sixth-grade-students were presented with labelled healthy foods.
During the first phase of the trial, foods such as whole fruits, vegetables, fat-free milk as well as whole grains were labelled with smiley faces. Later on, “power plates” were created, where having four healthy foods would mean that the child received small prizes.
Researchers then used the data collected from cash register receipts to understand if there had been any shift in eating habits.
The results were exceptional, especially where healthy food purchases were concerned:
- Labelling alone contributed to a 549% increase in plain milk sales (milk purchases rose from a mere 7.4% to a massive 48%)
- Vegetable purchases also increased by 62% (before labelling, vegetable purchases amounted for 0.74 items per child. After labelling, this number reached 1.2 items per child)
- Chocolate milk sales experienced a steep decrease from 86.5 percent to 44.6 percent
- Fruit purchases also rose by 20 percent to 1.2 fruits per day as opposed to one per day
- Power Plates were the all-time winner with a 335% increase
“This type of programme may be a useful component in schools trying to improve the nutrition and health of their students,” Robert Siegel, study author and Centre for Better Health and Nutrition medical director said.
Mr. Siegel added that such an approach was not only promising but also cost-efficient.
Image Source: Huffington Post
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