How information about what is "healthy" versus "unhealthy" impacts children's consumption of otherwise identical foods

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jasmine M. DeJesus, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Can brief messages about health influence children’s consumption of identical foods? Across a series of studies, we manipulated children’s consumption of identical foods (fruit sauces) by pairing those foods with brief messages about each food’s health status. What initially appeared to be a preference for foods described as healthy among 5- to 6-year-old children (Studies 1–2) actually reflected a preference for alternatives to foods described as unhealthy (Studies 3–5), including comparison foods that were described with negative or neutral content. Although the 2 foods on each trial were identical, children consistently ate more of the alternative to a food described as unhealthy. Similar effects were observed among 8- to 9-year-old children (Study 6). These results demonstrate that children’s eating behavior is affected by messages they receive from other people, including messages about health. Further, these studies reveal basic psychological mechanisms that contribute to children’s choices among foods, which could lead to effective interventions in the food domain.

Additional Information

Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. doi: 10.1037/xge0000588
Language: English
Date: 2019
food, eating, social cognition, cognitive development, health messages

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