London: Cartoon character Popeye, known for his bulging biceps and vegetarian diet, is responsible for encouraging millions of children to eat spinach, a study has shown.
Scientific research has now recognised the cartoon sailor man`s huge impact on children`s eating habits.
Experts noticed that kids, who regularly watched Popeye gobble spinach before his bouts with his arch-rival Bluto, doubled their vegetable intake, a news daily reported Monday quoting the findings of the study published in journal Nutrition & Dietetics.
After watching Popeye, the children ate four portions of vegetables a day compared to two.
Popeye was created by Elzie Crisler Segar for the Thimble Theatre comic strip and first appeared on screen in 1933. It is credited with helping save the US spinach industry in the 1930s.
Chutima Sirikulchayanonta, a professor who led the research at Mahidol University in Bangkok, was quoted as saying: "We got the children planting vegetable seeds, taking part in fruit and vegetable tasting parties, cooking vegetable soup, and watching Popeye cartoons."
The experiment that also urged children to plant their own vegetables, led to the volunteers taking more interest in healthy eating.
Sirikulchayanonta stated that Popeye did not influence an increase in the children`s fruit consumption. However, this could be because they already had plenty of fruit in their diet.