Courtesy Cornell Food & Brand Lab

4 Fast-Food Marketing Tactics Parents Can Adapt to Improve Kids’ Health

ICTMN Staff
2/17/14

Fast food marketing strategies are generally geared at one thing only: bolstering their bottom line. But some business moves by fast-food conglomerates can be replicated by companies that provide healthy food to increase sales, or by parents to encourage kids to eat better.

1. What Would Batman Eat?

Children who see photos of Batman and other superheroes eating healthier foods are significantly more likely to follow in their lead.

Researchers at Cornell Food & Brand Lab observed that while 9 percent of children instinctively opted for fries over apples, after seeing an image of Batman or a role model eating the apples, they chose the fresh fruit option.

Researchers concluded that parents could be rescued by superheroes in their daily battle to get kids to eat healthier. Simply invoking the name of their kids’ favorite superhero or idol could help them while urging kids to eat fresh vegetables or fruit.

2. Lower Calorie Happy Meals

McDonald’s new Happy Meals now contain a smaller serving of French fries, as well as additional drink options of non-fat chocolate milk and 1 percent-fat white milk. The Happy Meal main course choices remain consistent: four chicken nuggets, a hamburger or a cheeseburger. But the change in side items has cut the total calorie intake by 104 calories per meal, researchers say.

The takeaway for parents is that small changes in kids’ default foods can make a difference in reducing calories and improving their overall nutrition, as long as an indulgence is still part of the meal. Researchers also noted that balancing a meal with smaller portions and at least one fresh vegetable or fruit option could reduce the likelihood of children developing a habit of reactance or overeating.

Parents can mimic this strategy at home.

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