Weighing The Influence Of Cartoons on Health (Climate of Health)

Holy jelly rolls Batman! There’s a new study that claims “fat” cartoon characters may lead children to eat more junk food.

Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder showed a group of eighth-graders some pictures of either a lean and fit cartoon character or a rounder and heavier one. You can see the pictures they used here. The kids were then asked to comment on the cartoon characters and each was offered some chocolate or Starburst.

The New York Times wrote:

“Children who had seen the rotund cartoon character helped themselves to more than double the number of candies as children shown the lean character, taking 3.8 candies on average, compared with 1.7 taken by children shown the lean bean character. (Children in a comparison group shown an image of a coffee mug took 1.5 candies on average.)”

Following that experiment, researchers showed 167 elementary school children similar photos. But this time, a select group of children was asked to “think about things that make you healthy,” such as getting enough sleep rather than watching TV, or drinking milk rather than having soda.  Those who were asked about the healthy habits indulged in fewer cookies than those who weren’t, even if they were exposed to the rotund cartoon figure.

This not only shows the influence tv can have on choices, it also points out the importance of the role parents can play in talking with their kids about healthy choices. And those healthy choices are just another step in our fight to help make Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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