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Students More Likely to Eat Healthy if Persuaded by Emoticons

6 MAY 2015
Career Path : Education News

Education news

The “Happy Meal” has been a fast food symbol for children since 1979. Now, doctors and researchers think they have finally cracked the secret power of the Happy Meal—smiley faces.

Today, no young person under the age of 18 doesn’t know about or use emoticons. A smiley face at the end of the email, a rainbow/thumbs up/syringe string of emoji’s in a text, and so forth. We’re obsessed with emoticons, and food packagers hope to utilize this obsession to turn kids towards eating healthier foods.

A major risk for childhood obesity is unhealthy cafeteria choices. While almost every cafeteria will offer some sort of vegetable or salad option, they are often unappetizing, not fresh or are overpowered by the dozens of other unhealthy options, like fries and pizza. While the first step in this nutrition experiment is to first offer appetizing healthy options, nutrition experts are now suggesting these healthy options be paired with a smiley face sticker on the packaging.

By adding a smiley face emoticon by or on the healthiest foods in the cafeteria, children were surprisingly easily persuaded to eat better. This smiley face was also accompanied by a toy (in this case a small beach ball), just like McDonald’s Happy Meals.

The marketing tactic made chocolate milk sales at the test cafeteria dip significantly, while white milk sales increased by 549%. Meanwhile, fruit sales increased by 20%, and vegetable sales by 62%.

Should we continue giving children incentives to eat healthy? Do you think students will go back to unhealthy eating when there is no reward involved?

Source: Education News