Is smile is all it takes to get your child to eat their greens?

Getting children to eat their greens at dinner time can be a problem, but a according to a new study, some simple psychology might be the solution.

Study finds how parents can get children to eat healthy fruit and veg

Every parent knows that getting their child to eat healthy vegetables can become a nightmare. With lots of sugary snacks and drinks advertised towards the younger generation, children have become notoriously fussy when it comes to what goes on their plates at meal times.

Psychological research

According to a recent study in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, the solution to getting children to eat healthier food is actually quite simple. The study found that if adults visibly smile while eating food, children are more likely to try it.

Children as young as five were more willing to taste vegetables that they had previously dismissed when they saw an adult smiling while eating them. According to the study, this behavior was due to youngsters’ brains being more susceptible to the emotions of others.

In order to assess reactions, psychologists used photographs of women eating various foods, including vegetables that children often avoid. The study concluded that simply seeing the enjoyment on an adults face while eating food is enough to actively encourage the child to try it on their own accord.

Tackling childhood obesity

According to the NHS, 31% of children in the UK are now obese. Although lack of activity is part of the problem, a poor diet devoid of fruit and veg is becoming common, with the World Cancer Research fund estimating that a massive 80% of children in England eat less than the recommended five portions a day.

Researchers have claimed that these new findings might be vital in changing the nation’s unhealthy eating habits, concluding that “adults may unconsciously influence children’s food preferences via their facial expressions of pleasure or disgust.”

So are playing games with food to encourage your little one a waste of time? Will you start smiling while eating your sprouts?

Source: Telegraph Photo: CarbonNYC @ Flickr
+Ruth O’Brien

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