Healthy nutrition is very important at a young age: it is essential for proper physical development, the acquisition of eating habits that accompany children throughout their lives, and maintaining health. But in an age of high-sugar, high-fat processed foods and sweets, many parents find that encouraging a child to eat right is not an easy challenge, and usually they prefer sweets and snacks. How do you do it anyway? This may sound surprising, but it is worth avoiding various marketing descriptions of healthy food, especially words like “important”, “healthy”, and “nutritious”, at least according to a 2015 University of Chicago study.
In the study, children aged 4-5 were divided into three groups, and told a story about a girl who ate a baked wheat cracker, then went out to play. One group was told that the girl felt “strong and healthy” after the meal, while the other said that “the crackers were delicious and she was happy”. The third group were told nothing about the girl's feelings. Then, children were offered to eat what the girl ate in the story. While the children in the first group ate only 3 crackers, the children in the second group ate an average of 7.2 units, while the children in the third group, who were not told anything about the effect, ate 9 crackers. These results were repeated even when the crackers were replaced with carrots.
According to the researchers, the reason for this is the children's assumption that if the food is good for them, it may not be tasty. Therefore, they recommend that parents let the children choose their own foods, without marketing them, provided that the choices they make are healthier as well.
Simply put: If you want the kids to eat healthier – you have to try less: less “advertising” and “marketing” their health options, since the children assume, most rightfully so, that if the food was delicious– you shouldn't have to invest so much effort in persuasion.