Wimpy was a character in the "Popeye" cartoons who "would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." The chances of your getting paid on Tuesday, however, were worse than hitting the lottery.
But eating hamburgers and hoping to hit the lottery have more in common than Wimpy and strokes.
After marketers found that offering children a toy with their meals made them McCrazy for fast food, some clever university researchers turned the tables. They went McOpposite and found that when kids — and adults — are offered the choice between a big juicy hamburger and a smaller hamburger accompanied by a toy, prize, or just the chance to win $10, folks opt for the smaller burger and toy almost every time.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the university researchers found that offering someone a small prize, or even a lottery-like incentive, activates the same reward center in the brain that food does.
So, if you're trying to upgrade your kids' nutrition, see if a small incentive plus a serving of green beans doesn't beat out fried potatoes.
And we hope fast-food restaurants will help their customers choose healthier menu items by offering those who order an entree salad, say, a toy train symbolizing how that tasty meal arrived in front of you.
Posts by Dr. Mehmet Oz, M.D. and Dr. Mike Roizen, M.D.
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