New study findings, published in BMC Research Notes, examined whether children would select apples over French fries when the apples were presented as the default option.
The researchers bought take-out meal chicken nuggets from a fast food restaurant for 15 children aged 6-8. Half of the children were given fries with their meal and told they could exchange them for apples. The other half were given apples and told they could exchange them for fries. The study was repeated the following day and again the following week with the default switched. Even when the default side was apples, 86.7% opted to swap for fries.
The researchers conclude that strongly preferred foods, like fries at fast food restaurants or red meat at buffets, are so standard that it can be difficult to get people- especially children- to opt for healthier options, even if the healthy option is the default.