Healthy Living

Diets For Kids: Watching Cooking Shows Help Them Eat Healthy Foods

Parents may let kids enjoy child-friendly cooking shows. A new study found that watching such TV program could encourage children to make healthier food choices.

The findings, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, show that cooking shows that promote healthy foods can make young people 2.7 times more interested in healthy foods. The positive effects of the programs could last even until adulthood. 

Researchers analyzed data from 125 children, aged 10 to 12, at five schools in the Netherlands. The team asked each kid to watch 10 minutes of a public television cooking program designed for younger audience.

After the show, the participants were offered a snack as a reward for participating. The children who watched the shows that promoted healthy food showed greater interest in healthy snack options, like an apple or a few pieces of cucumber, than chips and salted mini-pretzels.

Researchers explained that healthy TV cooking shows could lead children to craving healthier food choice and portion size. 

"The findings from this study indicate cooking programs can be a promising tool for promoting positive changes in children's food-related preferences, attitudes and behaviors," Frans Folkvord, lead study author from Tilburg University, said in a statement

Folkvord and colleagues hope the findings would guide parents and schools in teaching children healthy eating behaviors. The study also backs previous research that found young people eat nutrient-rich foods if they participate in preparing the dish.

"Providing nutritional education in school environments instead may have an important positive influence on the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors of children," Folkvord pointed out.

However, some children may respond differently to cooking shows because of personality traits. Researchers found that young viewers who don't like new foods are less likely to eat healthier choices after watching the TV programs.

But parents should continue encouraging kids to watch shows with healthy food options. The research team noted that as children grow older they become more responsible for their eating habits and the information they learned at a young age may guide their food choices. 

“The likelihood of consuming fruits and vegetables among youth and adults is strongly related to knowing how to prepare most fruits and vegetables,” Folkvord added. “Increased cooking skills among children can positively influence their consumption of fruit and vegetables in a manner that will persist into adulthood.”

Children cooking Children immersed in cooking. Pixabay