Last summer, Brian Wansink, a friend and Cornell colleague and the editor of the new Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, asked me to write a commentary on a paper to be published in its inaugural issue.
The paper turned out to be by a group of authors, among them John Peters and Jim Hill, both members of the ill-fated Global Energy Balance Network, the subject of an investigation by the New York Times last August.
Titled “Using Healthy Defaults in Walt Disney World Restaurants to Improve Nutritional Choices,” the paper described the benefits of improving the composition of kids’ meals at Disney World.
The healthy defaults reduced calories (21.4%), fat (43.9%) and sodium (43.4%) for kid’s meal sides and beverages sold in the park. These results suggest that healthy defaults can effectively shift food and beverage selection patterns toward healthier options.
The authors explain:
This work was supported by the Walt Disney Company and by the National Institutes of Health…The Walt Disney Company and the National Institutes of Health had no role in the design, analysis, or writing of this article. Full disclosure: JH is a consultant for the Walt Disney Company and for McDonalds; KA is a consultant for the Walt Disney Company.”
I thought Disney’s sponsorship of this research and its withholding of critical baseline and sales data on kids’ meals that the company considered proprietary did in…