The children ate more when they did not receive any message about the foods making them strong or helping them learn how to count."
New York, July 23 - Do you find it hard to make your kids eat vegetables? Then do not tell them vegetables are good for them as children are less likely to eat healthy foods when they hear about their benefits, says a study.
Parents and care givers who are struggling to get children to eat healthier food may be better off simply serving the food without saying anything about it, or (if credible) emphasising how yummy the food actually is, said Michal Maimaran from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University in the US.
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, Maimaran added.
To test this idea, the authors conducted five studies with children aged between three and five years.
In all of the studies, the children were read a picture book story about a girl who ate a snack of crackers or carrots.
Depending on the experiment, the story either did or did not state the benefits of the snack (making the girl strong or helping her learn how to count).
The children were then given the opportunity to eat the food featured in the story and the authors measured how much they ate.
The children ate more when they did not receive any message about the foods making them strong or helping them learn how to count.
The study appeared in the Journal of Consumer Research.