College of Health and Life Sciences study - Aston University

Adults with positive facial expressions while eating vegetables help kids eat their greens

Parents who want to encourage their children to eat vegetables can now play a more influential part at their mealtimes. According to a recent study by psychologists in the College of Health and Life Sciences at Aston University, carried out by doctoral researcher Katie Edwards, children watching adults eat a green vegetable with positive facial expressions tasted and consumed more than double the amount of that vegetable.

The team observed 111 British children between the ages of four and six years old and played each of them one of three videos. In two of the videos, the children were shown unfamiliar adults eating raw broccoli with either a positive or a neutral facial expression. The third video, used as a control, was not food related.

The researchers then assessed the children’s willingness to try raw broccoli and found that children who were exposed to video clips of adults enjoying eating broccoli had more tastes of, and ate, on average, more than twice as much of the food in comparison with the kids in the control group — specifically, 11 g (0.4 oz) rather than 5 g (0.2 oz).

These results could aid children become more accepting of less popular vegetables like raw broccoli and generally facilitate healthier eating in children. The research mainly focused on young children who had never tried broccoli before.


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