The best way to get kids to eat more of a food product is to have it endorsed by a celebrity,” according to a new study at the university of Liverpool in England. While this may not be a surprise to parents, researchers spent time and money observing 181 children between ages 8 and 11, some of whom watched a 20-minute cartoon that included one of three different commercials: one for a particular brand of potato chips endorsed by a former soccer star Gary Lineker (who has been endorsing Walker's Crisps since 1995); one for a different snack food, and one for a toy, while another group of children viewed TV footage of the same soccer star at an event not related to the snack food.
The kids were then offered two bowls of chips and allowed to eat as much as they wanted. While both contained the brand-name chips, only one was labeled with the brand name. The other was labeled "supermarket."
In the end, the researcher team found that those who had watched the commercial with Lienker ate more of the chips labeled with the brand name compared with the kids who watched a commercial for a different food, and those who watched the toy commercial, causing lead researcher Dr Emma Boyland, from the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society to conclude, “ If celebrity endorsement of foods high in fat and sugar continues, and their appearances in other contexts leads to unhealthy eating, then this would mean that the more prominent the celebrity, the more detrimental the effects on children's diets."
A full report of the study will be published in a future issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.