Brian Wansink ran an experiment where children at a summer camp were given a choice between normal french fries and healthier apple fries (thinly sliced apples). Unsurprisingly, nearly all campers chose the french fries.
One day at lunch, Wansink and his colleagues tried something different: They showed kids pictures of 12 real and fictional heroes — including Batman — and asked what those role models would eat. Then, everything changed: In the new research, they found that 45 percent of the kids began eating the healthier apple fries.
“On average, children who selected apple fries consumed only 34 calories whereas children who selected French fries consumed 227 calories,” Wansink says. “If you eat fast food once a week, a small switch from French fries to apple fries could save your children almost three pounds of weight a year.”
This is one in a series of Wansink’s research that shows how small behavioral tweaks can change the way food is consumed. He’s found that everything from the how we pay for food (cash versus credit) to the color of a plate can effect how much we eat — a finding that proves true not only for children, but also for adults.