To Tell or Not To Tell Kids About Healthy Foods

Will kids be more likely to eat healthier foods if you tell them that they will make them stronger, smarter or taller? Well…maybe and maybe not.

According to a new study led by Dr. Ayelet Fishbach, University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, children who are told these things are less likely to choose the healthier foods. 

Fishbach says that kids conclude that if one food is good for a certain goal – like strength- then it's probably not good for another goal- like tasting good.  

He suggests that parents avoid telling their kids anything about the healthy foods they are eating.

Researchers carried out five experiments on a sample population of 270 preschool-aged children (ages three to five). The study found that children ate more of a food when it was presented without commentary or when it was presented simply as tasty, without any indication of its "usefulness." 

However, other studies have shown that teaching kids about nutrition through books can boost their vegetable intake. Other scientists have found that even young children – say 4 or 5 years old- benefit from parents creating a conceptual framework that is built up over several months. If children are encouraged to understand why eating a variety of healthy foods is good for them then they will want to make healthier food choices.

So what do you think? Is it better to avoid talking about the food you feed your child or should you explain how a variety of foods offer more health benefits to your youngsters?


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