Food superheroes can help you make healthy choices
A new Cornell study (full text article here) shows that children can be primed to order healthier fast food items merely by thinking about what their favorite superhero would eat. Published in Pediatric Obesity, the study conducted by Dr. Brian Wansink, Dr. Mitsuru Shimizu, and Guido Camps followed 22 children age 6 to 12 over four weeks choosing either french fries or apple fries (thinly sliced apples) from a popular fast food restaurant.
The study revealed that children who thought admirable models would eat healthily activated positive associations towards healthy food and thus were more likely to choose apple fries over french fries. In the small study, 36.4% more children made the healthy choice for lunch when exposed to a perceived healthy superhero. On average, children who selected apple fries consumed only 34 calories whereas children that selected french fries consumed 227 calories.
Some schools have already employed this strategy—check it out here. It hasn’t been studied in adults yet, but it’s possible that this healthy role model effect could translate. Think about your healthy superheroes—Olympians, yogis, your personal trainer—and what they might eat. It could help you make healthier choices!
Find your Batman or Kerri Walsh-Jennings and the next time you have a food choice to make, think “What would Batman eat?”