To encourage kids to eat more vegetables, don’t focus on the health benefits

July 22, 2014, Science World Report

By Kathleen Lees

A healthy diet remains an essential part of a child’s development. However, many children might not be so eager to pick up a piece of broccoli. Of course, they’d much rather have some candy or cake. But is it all just about the taste?

A recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that children might be more likely to eat their fruits and vegetables if they didn’t know about the added health benefits.

“We predicted that when food is presented to children as making them strong or as a tool to achieve a goal such as learning how to read or count, they would conclude the food is not as tasty and therefore consume less of it,” said researchers Michal Maimaran of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Ayelet Fishbach of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, in a news release.

For their research, the study authors conducted five studies with children between the ages of 3 to 5 years. The children in each of the studies were required to read a picture book story about a girl who ate a snack of crackers and carrots. However, depending on the study, the book may not have explained the benefits of eating the snack.

Researchers found that children typically ate more of their snack when they did not know of the benefits of it from the story.

In the future, researchers said they believe that these findings could be used to better market certain foods. By de-emphasizing the benefits of healthy products, children may be more likely to eat certain foods as well as experience a more enjoyable snack or meal that’s actually good for them.

Furthermore, getting children to eat more healthy foods can decrease the risk of certain health issues, including obesity and juvenile diabetes.

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