A study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior shows that children may make healthier eating decisions after watching a television cooking program featuring healthy food.

The researchers asked 125 children aged 10–12, with parental consent, in the Netherlands to watch 10 minutes of a Dutch public television cooking program designed for children, and then offered them a snack as a reward for participating. They found that the children who watched the healthy program were 2.7 times more likely to choose a healthy snack option, such as an apple or a few pieces of cucumber, than options like chips or salted pretzels.

“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,” said lead author Frans Folkvord, Tilburg University, in an Elsevier press release.

In addition, the researchers found that children who didn’t like new foods were less likely to show an inclination for healthier choices after watching a television program featuring healthier foods than a child who does enjoy trying new foods.

The researchers concluded that “these findings indicated a priming effect of the foods the children were exposed to, showing that nutrition education guided by reactivity theory can be promising. Cooking programs may affect the food choices of children and could be an effective method in combination with other methods to improve their dietary intake.”


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