Could food TV turn your kid into a healthy eater? Science says "sure, why not"

Photo: SbytovaMN (iStock)

Experts have long warned parents to limit their children’s time in front of the television, and parents have long ignored these experts because what’s a little brain rot compared silencing the incessant whining or being able to use the bathroom for five freaking minutes in peace? Now a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior  has shown that sitting the kids down in front of the “boob tube” could have a serious upside: It could make them healthier eaters.

Dutch researchers asked adolescents to watch a 10-minute clip taken from KRO Kookschool (ie, KRO Cooking School), a cooking competition show that was specifically designed for children. One group of participants was shown a clip that featured only fruits and vegetables; the second group was shown a clip featuring a hamburger in a bun, French fries with mayonnaise, and croissants. The video clips showed kids answering questions about certain foods as well as tasting and guessing what ingredients were in them. After watching the clip each child was offered a snack as a reward for their participation; the children in the group that watched the healthy program were 2.7 times more likely to select one of the nutritious options offered—an apple or sliced cucumbers—over the unhealthy options of chips or salted pretzels.

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“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 of Tilburg University in the Netherlands. He added that the likelihood of consuming fruits and vegetables is strongly related to knowing how to prepare them and that watching peers both eating and learning to cook with healthy foods could be strongly influential in helping them develop good eating habits.

So take note, parents: while parking the kids in front of a television all day might still not be the best idea, putting a healthy cooking show on could at least convince them to mindlessly pop baby carrots into their mouths instead of Cheez Doodles.

Allison Robicelli is The Takeout staff writer, a former professional chef, the author of three books, and a swan meat influencer. Questions about recipes or need cooking advice? Tweet @Robicellis.

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