Keep healthy options first to distract kids from junk food

2 min read

Do you want your children to eat more healthy food and less fast food? Researchers have recommended placing healthy food more visibly, attractively and conveniently so that your child can eat and stay healthy.

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Strongly preferred foods, like fries at fast food restaurants or red meat at buffets, are so standard that it can be difficult to get people — especially children — to opt for healthier options, even if the healthy option is the default.

The findings indicated that more children choose French fries over apples when apples were presented as the default option.

“We guessed that children would opt out of a healthier default when much-loved fries were an option,” said David Just from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab in the US.


“We were surprised that this was the case even for a relatively attractive healthy option like apple slices,” Just added in a paper published in the journal BMC Research Notes.

The team analysed 15 children aged from six to eight in which they ordered meal of chicken nuggets from a fast food restaurant to see if they would opt out of the healthy option.

Half of the children were given fries with their meal and told they could exchange them for apples and the other half were given apples and told that they could exchange them for fries.The results suggested that even when the default side was apples, 86.7 percent opted to swap for fries.

“A more realistic solution would be to offer a smaller portion of fries with apples and in this way, children aren’t forfeiting their favourite food; they are just eating less of it,” said another researcher Brian Wansink.