Monday, July 20, 2015

Blame Bill Cosby for Flabby Youth Morals?

Could flawed decision making by today’s children be attributed in part to the actions of iconic comedian Bill Cosby? I’m not referring to the multiple allegations that Mr. Cosby committed rape and covered it up. Instead, I’m referring to his creation years ago of the cartoon character Fat Albert. Were young children more likely to begin long-term habits of overeating because they watched media depictions of flabby kids?
     Researchers at University of Colorado-Boulder, Colorado State University, and Indiana University showed children ages 6 through 14 cartoon characters that were either overweight or of normal weight. Later, the children were offered low-nutrient food. Those who had been exposed to overweight cartoon characters consumed more.
     But don’t Fat Albert cartoons also feature kids of normal weight as supporting characters? Well, absent the preoccupation with Bill Cosby’s cartoon creation I’m taking here, the researchers presented another set of kids either only cartoon characters of normal weight or a mix of normal/overweight ones. Even with the supporting cast, those viewing the mix ate more unhealthy foods than did those not shown the mix.
     Consumers, especially young ones, are influenced what to eat by what they see other children, even cartoon depictions, eating. In the Colorado/Indiana studies, the attraction to the less healthy food was eased somewhat by talk about eating healthy. Researchers at Boston College similarly found that health education corrected a frightening backlash effect among kids: After information on a food package identified the contents as “healthy,” those foods were less likely to be selected by the children in the studies.
     When 225 children from across Canada were asked by University of Calgary researchers to describe “kids food,” they included sugary cereals and fatty entrees, while they classified raw fruits and vegetables as “adult food.” But this doesn’t mean adults aren’t tempted by kids food. Adults tend to stereotype healthy foods as less satisfying than nutritious foods.
     Cartoons are more insidious than package information because of the long-term effects. Researchers at Stony Book University and University of Arizona asked adults to assess the healthiness of a range of brands. Those less healthy products and the retailers featuring those products received much more positive evaluations if the brands had been heavily advertised to the study participants using cartoon figures when those consumers were children.
     Let’s realize our use of cartoon figures in selling can wrongly exploit the precious sensibilities of our youngest consumers.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more: 
Dump Purchase Ideas into the Subconscious
Unchain for Health
French Kiss Nutrition Notices Goodbye
Educate Children as Consumers

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