Cartoon wrappings make children eat more: Study shows children go for packaging with cartoon characters. Researchers at the University of Bonn conducted a study with the collaboration of the Research Institute for Child Nutrition (FKE) in which they showed that if the wrappings were made appealing to children, then they would aim for healthier snacks.

Causes Of Child Obesity

Around 179 boys and girls from primary schools in Dortmund were the participants in the study. The children were aged 8-10 years old and were allowed to choose between three identical snacks.

The snack was fruit-cereal and yogurt, which met the nutritional guidelines of Dortmund Research Institute for Child Nutrition (FKE). Usually snacks targeted towards young children are unhealthy and loaded with sugar. But eye-catching packaging makes all the difference according to the study.

Although the snacks were the same, what the choices differed in was the packaging. The first was plain packaging standard for such snacks, the second had health information added onto it while the third not only had an attractive name but also cartoon characters.

Quite predictably, the children went for the packaging with the cartoon characters. They also rated the snack as better tasting among the three choices offered, when allowed to sample all three packages. The students believed that they could detect a difference in the flavor of the snack in different packaging.

To better determine the children’s motivation of getting a snack from the three choices, a special device was used to measure handgrip strength. It basically measures the strength with which the children squeezed their hand to get their desired package of the snack.

Furthermore, the children were not interested in the healthy benefits listen on the second packaging. They went for what they found most appealing and justified it by stating that the third option tasted the best.

Dr. Mathilde Kersting from the FKE said, “Attractive packages can tempt children to pick unhealthy foods. But if the same type of packaging was used for nutritious snacks, they can be tempted to choose healthier options.”

The researchers hope that such packaging can be used to help kids choose whole milk or whole grain sandwiches as part of their daily diets. The study findings were published online before print in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.