Parents of finicky kids can encourage them to eat healthier diets by introducing more colour to their meals.
The study finds that colourful food fare is more appealing to children than adults. Specifically, food plates with seven different items and six different colours are particularly appealing to children as compared to adults.
“What kids find visually appealing is very different than what appeals to their parents,” said Brian Wansink, professor of marketing in Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management.
“Our study shows how to make the changes so the broccoli and fish look tastier than they otherwise would…,” the journal Acta Paediatrica reports.
Wansink and co-authors Kevin Kniffin and Mitsuru Shimizu, post-doctoral research associates, and Francesca Zampollo of London Metropolitan University, presented 23 pre-teen children and 46 adults with full-size photos of 48 different combinations of food on plates that varied by number of items, placement of entree and organisation of the food.
“Compared with adults, children not only prefer plates with more elements and colours, but also their entrees placed in the front of the plate and with figurative designs,” Kniffin said, according to a Cornell statement.
“While much of the research concerning food preferences among children and adults focuses on ‘taste, smell and chemical’ aspects, we will build on findings that demonstrate that people appear to be significantly influenced by the shape, size and visual appearance of food that is presented to them,” concluded Kniffin.