OBJECTIVES:

Children do not eat enough servings of vegetables, underscoring the need for effective interventions encouraging this behavior. The purpose of this research was to measure the impact that daily exposure to branded vegetable characters has on vegetable selection among boys and girls in elementary schools.

METHODS:

In a large urban school district, 10 elementary schools agreed to participate in the study. They were randomly assigned to a control condition or 1 of 3 treatment conditions: (1) a vinyl banner displaying vegetable characters that was fastened around the base of the salad bar; (2) short television segments with health education delivered by vegetable characters; or (3) a combination of the vinyl banner and television segments. We collected 22 206 student-day observations over a 6-week period by tallying the number of boys and girls taking vegetables from the school’s salad bar.

RESULTS:

Results show that 90.5% (from 12.6% to 24.0%; P = .04) more students took vegetables from the salad bar when exposed to the vinyl banner only, and 239.2% (from 10.2% to 34.6%; P < .001) more students visited the salad bar when exposed to both the television segments and vinyl banners. Both boys and girls responded positively to the vinyl banners (P < .05 in both cases).

CONCLUSIONS:

Evidence from this study highlights the positive impact of branded media on children’s vegetable selection in the school cafeteria. Results from this study suggest potential opportunities for using branded media to encourage healthier choices for children.

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