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January 06, 2020

Children who watch healthy cooking shows are more likely to eat nutritious foods, study says

Children's Health Nutrition
Cooking shows healthy food children a_namenko/iStock

Children who watch cooking shows that prepare healthy food options are 2.7 times more likely to choose nutritious snacks after watching the program than children who watch similar programs featuring unhealthy food options.

Exposing kids to cooking shows that feature nutritious food options may increase the likelihood that they will choose to eat healthier foods, according to a new study. 

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Education and Behavior found that children are more than twice as likely to eat healthy foods after watching cooking shows depicting nutritious foods than after viewing shows that featured unhealthy options. 

The study involved 125 children, ages 10 to 12, from five primary schools in The Netherlands. Some children watched 10 minutes of a cooking show that prepared healthy options, such as vegetables, Others watched 10 minutes of the same cooking show, but the clip featured only unhealthy items, such as hamburgers and fries. 

After watching the clips, the children were offered four different snack options, including two healthy items (cucumber slices or an apple) and two unhealthy items (chips or salted mini pretzels). The children who watched the healthy clip were 2.7 times more likely than the children who watched the unhealthy clip to choose a healthy reward.

Among the study's other findings: Children who do not like to try new foods were less likely to pick the healthier option after watching the healthy cooking show. But researchers said watching healthier cooking programs may still help the child make healthier decisions as they age, noting they later may fall back on the information they learned.

Children are more likely to eat healthy foods when they are shown how to prepare them, researchers said. They suggested schools could teach children about eating healthy by showing them how to prepare nutritious foods. 

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