Apparently, Sex Doesn't Sell Healthy Eating

A new study found that platonic love, instead of the hot, lusty kind, is better at inspiring people to eat healthy

Sex might sell perfume and clothes, but it doesn't quite work for healthy food (sorry, Padma). Instead, a new study found that symbols of platonic love are better at affecting food choices.

Researchers at Northern Kentucky University found that consumers who were exposed first to symbols of platonic love, associated with commitment and caring, tended to choose healthier snacks.

Testing the hypothesis on college students, the researchers showed students an image of hearts (previously shown to be linked to commited, platonic love), an image of kisses (for the romantic, passionate kind with a short lifespan), or a blank screen.

Of the students who saw hearts, 70 percent chose a healthy snack afterwards, like an apple or raisins. Only 49 percent of students who saw kisses chose a healthy snack. There wasn't a significant difference between those who saw kisses and those who saw a blank screen, lead author David Raska said.

In another experiment, researchers showed participants photos of Abraham Lincoln or Marilyn Monroe. Fewer than 30 percent of the kids who saw Monroe chose a healthy snack, while 60 percent of kids who saw a photo of Lincoln chose healthy snacks.

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While the researchers are still unclear about why this effect happens, but Raska suggests "surrounding ourselves with little reminders — images of family and good friends in our work spaces and on our cellphones, for instance — [that] may help us to adopt a more holistic view of our lives that will drive us to make food choices that are good for us in the long term." So we'll be taking down our Ryan Gosling screensaver and replacing it with this.