Chatting on food habits makes kids healthier, says study

This undated photo provided by America's Test Kitchen in August 2018 shows a brown rice salad with asparagus and goat cheese in Brookline, Mass. This recipe appears in the cookbook "Holiday Entertaining." (Carl Tremblay/America's Test Kitchen via AP)

Parents, please take note. Talking about food benefits is likely to get your kid to eat healthier, which might help them to grow bigger and run faster, says a study.

The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour, shows that the researchers found affirming statements were more effective at getting kids to make healthy food choices than presenting the food repeatedly without conversation.

The researchers found that kids ate twice as much healthy food when they were told how it would benefit them in terms they could understand as opposed to when they were given the food with no contextual information.

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In this Monday, Oct. 27, 2014 photo, Gracie Hunter, left, and her Mom, Melissa watch a YouTube video of a toy review while on vacation in Kissimmee, Fla. The mother-daughter duo, stars of the “Mommy and Gracie” YouTube show, review dolls for kids. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

“Every child wants to be bigger, faster, able to jump higher,” said study lead author Jane Lanigan, Associate Professor at Washington State University in the US.

“Using these types of examples made the food more attractive to eat,” Lanigan said.

The researchers wanted to see if child-centred nutrition phrases (CCNPs), affirmative statements that simply convey the benefits of healthy food, influenced young children to make healthier food choices.

For the study, the research team picked 87 children and ran an experiment where they offered healthy foods to a group of 3-to-5-year-old children for six weeks.

“We found that a month later, the kids ate twice as much of their CCNP food with the repeated exposure compared to the food without the positive words. For example, when we presented lentils we would say, ‘This will help you grow bigger and run faster’,” said Lanigan.