Broccoli, Tomatoes, Raspberries & Carrots Become Popular With Kids, Thanks to The “Food Dudes” Of Ireland

Filed under: Health — @ February 16, 2007

In America, we’re accustomed to cartoon characters cleverly nudging our kids to clarmor for sugary cereals and other nutrient-poor junk foods.

Meanwhile, over at 150 elementary schools in Ireland, four super-cool “Food Dudes” — who thrive on tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, raspberrries — are making it very smart and “with it” for kids to eat fruits and veggies, Associated Press medical writer Marcia Cheng reports.

This is one most brilliant, clever, admirable food PR campaign, complete with captivating videos, which creatively make positive use of peer pressure, peer modeling and a rewards sytem.

“In some respects, we use the same techniques as multinationals selling junk food, but we’re on the side of the angels,” Dr. Fergus Lowe, a University of Wales psychologist who was part of the team that devised the effort told the AP.

Just listen to this awesome plot hatched:

The Food Dudes — better known as the young super-heroes Charlie, Tom, Raz and Roccodo — eat their favorite fruits or veggies, which give them special powers so they can save the world and the Life Force from a gang of baddies, the “Junk Punks.”

As the super-heroes website explains, General Junk and his sidekicks, Miss Demeanour and Master Disaster, are “trying to drain the energy of the world by depriving it of nutritious” fruits and vegetables. Armed with the special powers they get from carrots, tomatoes, raspberries and broccoli, “the Food Dudes feed the Life Force and foil the Junk Punks.”

The Food Dudes have been such a hit and so successful at getting children to begin to relish fruits and veggies in the 150 participating schools that the Irish government, the European Union and food giant Unilever will expand the program to all schools in Ireland, the AP reports.

You may be wondering how four super-heroes can get kids to pick produce and shun junk food. Well, according to data from a research team at the University of Wales.

*In a home-based study, targeted fruit consumption of fussy five-to-six-year-old eaters rose from 4% to 100% and veggies from 1% to 83%.

*In primary-school settings, even when sweets ans savoury snacks were presented alongside the fruit and vegetables, fruit consumption of 5-6 year-olds more than doubled from an initial level of 28% to 59% six months later while veggie consumption increased fourfold from 8% to 32%.

Yoo hoo, American companies and schools, why don’t you import these cool Food Dudes to convince kids over here to eat fruits and veggies, too?

Jennifer Moore contributed to this posting.

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