Manga Helps To Promote Healthy Eating

A pilot study has found that exposure to Manga (Japanese comics) promoting fruit intake may encourage youths to consume healthy snacks.

Asian Scientist (Feb. 18, 2014) – A pilot study has found that exposure to Manga (Japanese comics) promoting fruit intake may encourage youths to consume healthy snacks.

Snacking accounts for up to 27% of children’s daily caloric intake and approximately 30% to 45% of US children between the ages of 6 and 18 years do not meet recommended fruit consumption levels. Therefore, there is an urgent need for innovative strategies to promote healthy eating among youths.

“Manga comics could be used to promote healthier behaviors and beliefs related to fruit consumption in at-risk youth. The graphics and minimal text make it a promising format to engage younger populations,” said lead author Dr May May Leung.

The study, conducted in Brooklyn, New York, involved 57 youths approximately 11 years of age, nearly 90% of whom were either Black/African American or Hispanic.

In their study, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, the researchers used the innovative Manga-based intervention promoting positive dietary behaviors to capture the attention of youth living in a multimedia environment.

Manga was chosen because it is a unique form of multimodal narrative media combining visual images and text. According to the Transportation-Imagery Model, persuasion of a story’s messages occurs because an individual is “transported” or immersed into the narrative world, and images in a story are impactful in influencing behavior.

After reading either a Manga comic, titled “Fight for Your Right to Fruit,” or a non-health-related newsletter, children were given the choice between a healthy snack (oranges, grapes, apples, strawberries) or an energy-dense snack (cookies, potato chips, nacho chips, and cheese-filled crackers). Sixty-one percent of children in the comic group chose a healthy snack after reading, as opposed to just 35% of the group exposed to the newsletter.

Although this is only a pilot study, the results may be useful in promoting healthy decision-making among youth as it relates to food consumption.

The article can be found at: Leung MM et al. (2014) Manga Comic Influences Snack Selection In Black And Hispanic New York City Youth.


Source: Elsevier; Photo: twicepix/Flickr/CC.
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