Think your kids will consider healthier food choices if you tell them how good that broccoli is for their bodies?
According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, children are less likely to eat a food when they hear about its benefits. Most parents have probably already figured that out, but it could help those who aren’t sure whether touting a food’s benefits will help kids give it a try.
“We predicted that when food is presented to children as making them strong or as a tool to achieve a goal, such as learning how to read or count, they would conclude the food is not as tasty and therefore consume less of it,” said Michal Maimaran, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and Ayelet Fishbach, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Maimaran and Fishbach performed five studies on kids between the ages of 3 and 5. Adults read children a picture book about a girl who ate either crackers or carrots. Some kids got details about the health benefits of the snack; others didn’t.
When the children had the chance to eat either carrots or crackers, the researchers found that kids who hadn’t received any message about the foods making them strong or helping them learn how to count ate more than those who had.
“Parents and caregivers who are struggling to get children to eat healthier may be better off simply serving the food without saying anything about it, or (if credible) emphasizing how yummy the food actually is,” the authors concluded.
Kristen Fischer is a writer living at the Jersey Shore. She is the author of When Talent Isn’t Enough, Business Basics for the Creatively Inclined.