Making healthy foods the default menu dupes people into eating better

(credit: USDA)

If you serve it, they will eat it—or at least that seems to be a take-away from a new study on healthy menu options published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.

Between 2010 and 2012, the Walt Disney Company experimented with kids' meal menus in 145 restaurants in its Orlando theme park, Walt Disney World. The company swapped traditional sides of fatty fries and sugary sodas with fruit or vegetables and low-fat milk or water. If parents wanted to go with the unhealthy standard fare, they simply had to “opt out” of the fresh meal items. But, according to the data analyzed by health researchers at the University of Colorado, around half of patrons didn’t bother and stuck with the healthy options.

In the time frame, 48 percent of guests were content with the healthier food sides and 66 percent of guests kept the healthier beverage option.

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