Can a Toy Encourage Lower Calorie Meal Bundle Selection in Children? A Field Experiment on the Reinforcing Effects of Toys on Food Choice
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Eller Coll Management, Dept Mkt
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherPUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE
CitationCan a Toy Encourage Lower Calorie Meal Bundle Selection in Children? A Field Experiment on the Reinforcing Effects of Toys on Food Choice 2017, 12 (1):e0169638 PLOS ONE
Rights© 2017 Reimann, Lane. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.
Collection InformationThis item from the UA Faculty Publications collection is made available by the University of Arizona with support from the University of Arizona Libraries. If you have questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AbstractThe goal of this research was to test whether including an inexpensive nonfood item (toy) with a smaller-sized meal bundle (420 calories), but not with the regular-sized meal bundle version (580 calories), would incentivize children to choose the smaller-sized meal bundle, even among children with overweight and obesity. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the effect in a between-subjects field experiment of a toy on smaller-sized meal choice (here, a binary choice between a smaller-sized or regular-sized meal bundles). A random sample of 109 elementary school children from two schools in the Tucson, Arizona metropolitan area (55 females; M-age = 8.53 years, SDage = 2.14; M-BMI = 18.30, SDBMI = 4.42) participated. Children's height and weight were measured and body-mass-index (BMI) was calculated, adjusting for age and sex. In our sample, 21 children were considered to be either overweight or obese. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the effect of a toy on smaller-sized meal choice. Results revealed that the inclusion of a toy with a smaller-sized meal, but not with the regular-sized version, predicted smaller-sized meal choice (P < .001), suggesting that children can be incentivized to choose less food when such is paired with a toy. BMI neither moderated nor nullified the effect of toy on smaller-sized meal choice (P = .125), suggesting that children with overweight and obesity can also be incentivized to choose less. This article is the first to suggest that fast-food restaurant chains may well utilize toys to motivate children to choose smaller-sized meal bundles. Our findings may be relevant for consumers, health advocates, policy makers, and marketers who would benefit from a strategy that presents healthier, but still desirable, meal bundle options.
NoteOpen Access Journal.
VersionFinal published version
SponsorsCenter for Management Innovations in Health Care (CMIHC) at the University of Arizona
- The Happy Meal® Effect: the impact of toy premiums on healthy eating among children in Ontario, Canada.
- Authors: Hobin EP, Hammond DG, Daniel S, Hanning RM, Manske S
- Issue date: 2012 May 24
- Food marketing with movie character toys: Effects on young children's preferences for unhealthy and healthier fast food meals.
- Authors: Dixon H, Niven P, Scully M, Wakefield M
- Issue date: 2017 Oct 1
- Modeling potential effects of reduced calories in kids' meals with toy giveaways.
- Authors: Freij MY, Sell RL, Bozack AK, Weiss LJ, Garcia AC
- Issue date: 2014 Feb
- Mealtime exposure to food advertisements while watching television increases food intake in overweight and obese girls but has a paradoxical effect in boys.
- Authors: Anderson GH, Khodabandeh S, Patel B, Luhovyy BL, Bellissimo N, Mollard RC
- Issue date: 2015 Feb
- Meal size, not body size, explains errors in estimating the calorie content of meals.
- Authors: Wansink B, Chandon P
- Issue date: 2006 Sep 5