Your favorite cooking show could help you convince your child to eat healthier, according to a new study.
Research published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior showed that children who watched an episode of a kid-oriented cooking show that focused on healthy food were more than two times as likely to choose to eat a healthy snack compared to children who watched the same show about unhealthy foods, according to Science Daily.
“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,” assistant professor at Tilburg University, Tilburg, Netherlands, Frans Folkvord, Ph.D., said in a press release. Folkvord who served as the study’s lead author.
After getting parental consent, researchers surveyed 125 children at five schools in the Netherlands to view 10 minutes of a Dutch cooking show. The public television program was geared toward children and as a reward, participating children ages 10-12 were offered a snack after viewing.
CNN reported the programs saw contestants from Dutch schools battling it out by cooking their own dishes, tasting them and describing the ingredients they thought were used to make the meals when asked. Among the healthy options in the footage were vegetables like Brussels spouts and onions and fruits like tomatoes. Unhealthy options depicted included French fries and hamburgers.
Participants were asked to rate how healthy or unhealthy they thought the meals were based on a 10-point scale. Zero meant the food was unhealthy and 10 was very healthy.
Children who viewed the healthy segment were more likely to pick a healthy snack — like an apple or cucumber slices — compared to children who viewed the unhealthy segment. Children who saw the latter program, meanwhile, opted for chips or mini pretzels. That breaks down to 41% of children choosing a healthy snack in the healthy condition, while only 20% of children in the unhealthy condition chose healthy foods.
Among the kid-friendly programming parents can use to help their kids make better eating choices, CNN lists Food Network’s recently rebooted show “Good Eats,” which features Atlanta’s own Alton Brown. On the series, Brown dives into the history of food while using science to explain how cooking forms a meal. Often, puppets and sketches are employed to demonstrate cooking processes. Past episodes have focused on ancient grains like quinoa and vegetables including asparagus and cauliflower.
“If you promote healthy foods to children, it can be beneficial to improve their intake,” Folkvord told CNN. “For parents, it’s important that they promote healthy foods during day time by different methods, and one of the methods is these cooking programs.”
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