Television programs that featured healthy ingredients could inspire kids to make better food choices.

Watching television may not be such a bad thing after all. A new study published in the Journal of Nutritional Education and Behavior found that children who watched cooking shows featuring healthy ingredients were more likely to make a healthy food choice independently, according to ScienceDaily. Researchers surveyed 125 children ranging from ages 10 to 12 at five schools in the Netherlands. All of the participants watched 10 minutes of a public television cooking show; the majority of kids who watched the healthy show chose a healthy snack such as an apple or cucumber slices; kids who watched a less healthy cooking show were more likely to gravitate towards snacks like chips and pretzels.

Fruits and Vegetables
Credit: Getty Images/Lisovskaya

"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, Ph.D., of Tilburg University in the Netherlands.

While previous studies indicated that children's eating habits could be influenced by their hands-on involvement in preparing a certain meal, this study reveals that their exposure to healthier food options can also have an impact. "The likelihood of consuming fruits and vegetables among youth and adults is strongly related to knowing how to prepare most fruits and vegetables. Increased cooking skills among children can positively influence their consumption of fruit and vegetables in a manner that will persist into adulthood," Dr. Folkvord said, according to ScienceDaily.

Healthy eating habits established early in a child's life could stay with them well into adulthood and help prevent obesity, diabetes, and other diseases. In addition to health-centered cooking shows and interactive cooking between kids and adults, nutritional educational programs in schools can also positively influence a large number of students and staff members. "Positive peer and teacher modeling can encourage students to try new foods for which they exhibited distaste previously," said Dr. Folkvord.


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