Cartoons Influence Kids to Eat Vegetables, Study Says

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WholeFoods Magazine Staff
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Bangkok, Thailand—It’s no surprise that children are easily swayed by what they see on television, but a new study published in Nutri t ion & Dietet ics found that a cartoon can influence children to eat more vegetables.

Bangkok, Thailand—It’s no surprise that children are easily swayed by what they see on television, but a new study published in Nutri t ion & Dietet ics found that a cartoon can influence children to eat more vegetables.

Researchers at Mahidol University enrolled 26 children ages four to five in an eight-week program that used “multimedia and role models to promote healthy food.” Parents were told to encourage their children to eat healthier, while the children helped the adults in planting vegetable seeds, participating in fruit and vegetable tasting parties, cooking vegetable dishes and watching Popeye eat lots of spinach on television.

The researchers found that the children’s intake of vegetables doubled when compared to the amount they were eating before watching the program, and the different types of vegetables they consumed increased from two to four. Parents also said that their kids talked about vegetables more often and were proud to eat them for lunch.

Just as kids can be influenced by the media to eat healthy, they can also be influenced to eat candy and fast food.

A study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles, and published in the American Journal of Public Health last February, found that commercial viewing of unhealthy food was associated with higher BMI, especially for children under seven, who are easily influenced by advertising.

Companies are taking advantage of this, as a 2008 report from the Federal Trade Commission found that 44 of America’s major food and beverage companies spend $1.6 billion each year on advertisement which is geared towards children under 17.

Furthermore, a study done by Yale University found that children between four and six preferred junk food with licensed cartoon characters on the packaging.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, October 2010