Children watching Television.. Image Source: IANS News

January 09 : TV cooking programmes that show healthy foods as ingredients help children to eat health foods, and this habit may continue into their adulthood, according to a new study.

It is found that children who eat unhealthy foods during childhood and adolescence have several negative impacts on their health and wellness. They may face problems like obesity, dental health and even development issues.

The new study conducted by Tilburg University, Netherlands, found that kids who watch children’s cooking shows featuring healthy foods were 2.7 times more likely to make a healthy choice of foods than those who watch the same TV show but different episodes featuring unhealthy food.

Cooking shows can be promising tools

The new study suggested that healthy food programmes on the TV can serve as promising tools for promoting positive changes in children’s food habits. Researchers, who conducted the study in five Netherlands schools, found that kids, who watched a healthy cooking programme, chose healthy snack options like apple or cucumber. However, children who did not watch the healthy food show opted for chips and salted mini-pretzels, lead author Dr Frans Folkvord, PhD, at Tilburg University, said.

Earlier studies have found that youth are more likely to eat healthy foods like fruits and vegetables when they are involved in preparing a dish with healthy ingredients. These studies have pointed out that relying on ready-to-eat food and lack of parents’ motivation in preparing fresh foods have led to a decrease in cooking skills among kids and adolescence.

The new study indicated that visual exposure to healthier foods and portion size on TV cooking shows help children crave for healthier foods and then they try to act on those cravings. This makes them go for healthy foods.

The new findings showed that the effect of exposure to healthier foods, however, is influenced by personality traits. For example, kids who don't like to try new foods will not show the desire for healthier foods even after watching a TV show featuring healthier foods. On the other hand, a child who enjoys eating new foods will benefit more from the healthy show.

What can be done?

Dr Frans Folkvord pointed out that since schools represent effective and efficient ways to reach out to a larger section of children, kids should get nutritional education in these institutions. This will help them adopt good eating habits and positive cooking skills. Positive modelling by teachers can motivate children to try new foods for which they had shown distaste previously. Cooking skills among children can also influence good and healthy consumption of foods like fruits and vegetables, and this will also persist into their adulthood, Dr. Folkvord added.

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