Blog

22 May
2014

If you want your kids to eat healthily...serve it, stay stum and don't tell them it's good for them!

This interesting piece of research came through to me this morning. Take a read...it may change how you 'sell' healthy foods to children when sitting at the dinner table!

"According to a new study to be published in the Journal of Consumer Research, if you told a three year old she should try a certain dish because it will make her smart, she will conclude it must not taste very good.

The study, led by Professor Ayelet Fishbach of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, shows that preschoolers believe that if a certain food is good for one goal, it cannot be a good means to achieve another goal.

As such, if food is presented as making them strong, or as instrumental to a non-health goal such as knowing how to read, these children will conclude the food is not as tasty, and will therefore consume less of it, compared to when the food is presented as tasty or with no accompanying message.

Given our societal objective to promote healthy eating among young children, understanding how persuasion messages affect learning and consumption has important policy implications.


Children less likely to eat food if they know it's good for them

New study shows children think food can't be both healthy and tasty

May 2014. When it comes to urging young children to eat healthy food, parents are better off saying nothing about the benefits than saying it will help them grow stronger or smarter.

According to new research by

University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor Ayelet Fishbach, children reject nourishing food simply because they know it is good for them, and once they know that, they assume the food won't taste good.

In the paper “If it's Useful and You Know it, Do You Eat? Preschoolers refrain from Instrumental Food," to be published in the October issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, Fishbach and Michal Maimaran of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, demonstrate that telling children that food will help them achieve a goal, such as growing strong or learning to read, decreases preschooler's interest in eating the food.

“Preschoolers seem to think that food can't serve two purposes, that it can't be something that makes them healthier and something that is delicious to eat at the same time'" said Fishbach. “So telling them that the carrots will make them grow tall or make them smarter actually makes them not want to eat the carrots. If you want them to eat the carrots, you should just give the kids the carrots and either mention that they are tasty or just say nothing."

The researchers completed five experiments with 270 preschoolers in which an experimenter read picture stories about a girl who had some food for a snack. In some stores, she was interested in the food because it was good for her, in others she was interested because the food was tasty and in some stories, there was no reason mentioned in the story for why she was interested in the food.

In each case, children ate more of a food when no reason for eating it was mentioned or when it was presented as being tasty, than they did when they thought the food was good for them.

“Our study focused on very young children, and we should keep in mind that older children might rely less on taste when making food decisions due to higher self-control, said Fishbach. “On the other hand, most of us know teenagers who only eat six different foods, so it could turn out that their thinking is similar to their younger counterparts."

About the University of Chicago Booth School of Business

The University of Chicago Booth School of Business is one of the leading business schools in the world, consistently ranking in the top ten and frequently in the top five. The school's faculty includes many renowned scholars and its graduates occupy key positions in the US and worldwide. The Chicago Approach to Management Education is distinguished by how it leverages fundamental knowledge, its rigor, and its practical application to business challenges.

The school offers full- and part-time MBA programmes, a PhD programme, open enrolment executive education and custom corporate education, with campuses in London, Chicago and Singapore. Current enrolment includes 1,162 full-time MBA students, 2,012 part-time MBA students of whom 190 are studying in London, and 123 PhD students. Six current or former faculty members are Nobel Prize winners in economics. Among the school's many successful alumni are Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, James A. Rasulo, Senior Executive Vice President and CFO of The Walt Disney Company, Bart Becht, former CEO, Reckitt Benckiser plc, Brady Dougan, CEO, Credit Suisse and David Booth,chairman and co-chief executive of Dimensional Fund Advisors, for whom the school was renamed in 2008.

www.chicagobooth.edu

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