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Superheroes’ Most Amazing Power: Getting Kids to Choose Healthy Snacks Over French Fries

Cornell researchers exploit kids' adoration of Batman for the better, using the superhero as an impetus to encourage kids to eat healthy.

Photo: Jinx!

Popeye and his spinach are so 1933. Today, kids turn not to the sailorman but to the batman as heroic role model. Cornell researchers exploited this adoration for the better, using Batman as an impetus to encourage kids to eat healthy.

The Times of India reports on this crafty but well-intended manipulation:

“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,” said Brian Wansink, Cornell professor of marketing, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and study co-author.

“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 stated.

He and his colleagues asked 22 children at summer camp, aged 6 to 12, if they’d prefer fries or apples for Wednesday lunch over a period of several weeks.

Fully 45 per cent of the children selected apple fries after being shown pictures of superheroes and other role models, compared to the 9 per cent who chose apple fries with no superhero prompts.

Apples contained only 34 calories, while a single serving of fries totalled a whopping 227 calories.

“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,” he added.

Now that’s a statistic any spandex-wearing superhero could be proud of.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Why Hollywood Loves Comic Books

Not All Calories are the Same 

 

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