Is your kid glued to television screen watching cartoons or movies? We all know how challenging it can be to stop a kid from watching television and indulge them in other activities. Even daily activities like feeding food to them can be a daunting task unless you have their favourite show on the screen. If all of this sounds familiar to you, then this piece of news may help you. Next time when you feed your kid, you don’t need to put your TV off; in fact, redirect your kids towards watching a healthy cooking show! A recent research has suggested that television programmes featuring healthy foods can influence children to make healthier food choices now.
While the popular notion has always been that exposure to television advertisements about fast foods is linked to unhealthy eating habits among children, this new research might be a promising alternative for children learning healthy eating behaviours from TV. The research, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour, concluded that the kids who watched a child-oriented cooking show featuring healthy food were 2.7 times more likely to make a healthy food choice than those who watched a different episode of the same show featuring unhealthy food.
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The study was conducted with 125 children between 10 to 12 years of age in the Netherlands, who were asked to watch 10 minutes of a cooking programme designed for children. They were then rewarded with a snack for participating. The children who watched the healthy programme were more likely chose one of the healthy snack options such as an apple or a few pieces of cucumber while the others went for one of the unhealthy options, including chips or a handful of salted mini-pretzels.
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“The findings from this study indicate cooking programmes can be a promising tool for promoting positive changes in children’s food-related preferences, attitudes, and behaviours,” said lead author Frans Folkvord of Tilburg University in the Netherlands. “Providing nutritional education in school environments instead may have an important positive influence on the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviours of children,” he added.
Gone are the days when the involvement of kids in preparing healthy food led the kids to opt for healthy eating. With more and more dependency on ready-to-eat food we are leading towards a drop in cooking skills among kids and probable leading to visual cooking as a new model for healthy eating habits. This study further suggests that the visual prominence of healthier options in both food choice and portion size on TV cooking programmes leads young viewers to crave those healthier choices then act on those cravings.
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But the study also points that the effect that exposure to healthier options has on children can be strongly influenced by personality traits too. For example, children who don’t like new foods are less likely to show a stronger desire for healthier choices after watching a TV programme featuring healthier foods than a child who does enjoy trying new foods. As they grow older, though, they start to feel more responsible for their eating habits and can fall back on information they learned as children. Therefore, the effects of the exposure of healthier options can still have a positive impact on children’s behaviour, even if it is delayed by age.
So parents, now you know how to encourage your kids to adopt healthy eating habits. Subscribe to as many healthy cooking shows as possible and get started.