The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour recently published research on how screen-based peer modelling can affect vegetable consumption and preferences of pre-schoolers.
Reuters expanded on this research to explain the findings. Using bell peppers (capsicum), the pre-schoolers (aged 3-5 years) watched a short video of other children eating bell peppers, and it was then found that those children ate more of those vegetables when presented with them later.
As much as any parent of fussy eaters would LOVE for this to be an overnight fix, it must be pointed out that it did take a while for the pre-schoolers to change their eating habits, however. Instead of an overnight change, the children’s consumption of the bell peppers increased after a week, significantly though, from about six grams to 16 grams.
The pre-schoolers weren’t required to sit and watch the video for long intervals or repetitively. The video was 7.5 minutes long and was shown only once to achieve the aforementioned results.
The research therefore suggests that showing something similar during kids’ television shows or during a break at school before meal times could help to develop better eating habits in children.
According to Amy Yaroch, Executive Director of the Gretchen Swanson Centre for Nutrition in Omaha, Nebraska, role modelling is an effective way to get people, including children, to adopt healthy behaviours. Yes, parents serve as role models, but peers can be a very strong influence too.
Considering the obesity epidemic, the influx of sugar-laden foods and busy lifestyles, perhaps finding ways to turn screen-time into healthy time could be a good idea considering these findings.
If you’re fighting a battle with your fussy eater why not check out 12 Veggie Smuggler Recipes for Fussy Eaters.