HE&B 265 August 2017: Pairing Animal Cartoon Characters With Produce Stimulates Selection Among Child Zoo Visitors

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In order to address the pervasive trend of underconsumption of fruits and vegetables among children, we examined the hypothesis that children would be more likely to select fruits (apple slices, bananas, and oranges) and vegetables (baby carrots) when paired with animal cartoon image than when available without the character image. Tested in a randomized experiment using counterbalancing, products were arranged on two tables at two separate family fun nights held at a local zoo. Animal character produce parings were manipulated by placing one of two animals (tamarin or iguana) next to two of the four fruit or vegetable selections at each table, and by changing when available without the image. In total, 755 produce
selections were made. Significantly more products paired with a character were selected (62.38%) than the same products, not paired (37.62%), χ2 = 46.32, df = 1, p < .001. The odds ratio of the treatment versus control was 1.66 (i.e., 471/284), indicating that children were 66% more likely to select a snack when paired with an animal cartoon. Study findings highlight the positive impact of animal cartoons on children’s fruit and vegetable snack selections, and results suggest the potential for using animal cartoons to encourage fruit and vegetable selection for children.

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