29/08/2012 11:51 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Want Your Child To Eat An Apple? Put A Sticker On It

Healthy eating in children: branding is the key PA

A study into children's eating habits has found that young people are more attracted to healthy food if it is branded or made to look 'child friendly' with stickers.

Dr Brian Wansink, Dr David R. Just and Dr Collin R. Payne studied 208 boys and girls aged 8 to 11, from ethnically and economically diverse, rural and suburban areas of New York over a five day period.

After choosing their lunch each day, the children had an opportunity to take one or both of the last items: an apple or a biscuit. On the first day, they were asked to choose a biscuit or apple without stickers (this was done to test the children's baseline preference). Over the following three days, the boffins tried different interventions: one day they put a sticker of a popular character (Elmo from Sesame Street) only on the biscuit, and on another day they put the character just on the apple. On the third day, they put an unfamiliar sticker on the apple. On the final day of the trial, the children went back to having the choice of a biscuit or an apple, neither with stickers on.

The researchers discovered that the children nearly doubled their apple choice if a familiar character, like Elmo, was on the fruit.

This study concluded that healthier options are more appealing to children when they are targeted towards them with characters and branding.

Interesting! Can you imagine how long it would take to put stickers all over cabbage leaves, carrots and broccoli though?!