The effect of images of Michelle Obama’s face on trick-or-treaters’ dietary choices: A randomized control trial

Peter M. Aronow, Dean Karlan*, Lauren E. Pinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective To evaluate the microfoundations of a personality-inspired public health campaign’s influence on minors. Design Multi-year randomized control trial. Setting Economics professor’s front porch in New Haven, CT. Participants 1223 trick-or-treaters in New Haven over three years; on average, 8.5 years old and 53% male (among children whose gender was identifiable). Eligibility Trick-or-treaters over the age of three that approached the house. Intervention Random assignment to the Michelle Obama side of the porch or the Comparison side of the porch. Main outcome measure Selection of fruit over candy. Methods Difference-in-means estimates. Results We estimate that viewing a photograph of Michelle Obama’s face relative to control conditions caused children to be 19% more likely to choose fruit over candy. Conclusions Michelle Obama’s initiative to reduce childhood obesity has influenced children’s dietary preferences. Whether this influence extends beyond Halloween trick-or-treating in New Haven, CT on the porch of an economics professor requires further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0189693
JournalPloS one
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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