While the focus of healthy eating tableware tends to be on limiting portions of carbs and proteins, a study group out of Minnesota took a different slant with a group of kids by putting photos of vegetables in their lunch trays – and it worked!

The study, recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at the consumption of carrots and green beans at a school cafeteria, comparing eating patterns on a day with pictures of carrots and green beans placed in the bottom of the tray, to a day when there were no pictures placed in the tray.   Kids helped themselves on both days to these vegetables as they wished, and were not aware that their selection or eating patterns were being recorded.

They found that the number of kids who selected green beans more than doubled (from 6.3% to 14.8%), and the number who selected carrots more than tripled (from 11.6% to 36.8%).  However, the number of kids choosing these vegetables overall was still low; further, the amount consumed was low, and did not meet government recommendations.

What this study teaches us is that the power of suggestion can have an impact on helping kids make healthier choices, with minimal additional cost above other much more expensive interventions such as structured classroom teaching.  While the classroom teaching is a crucial part of teaching our kids to eat healthy, let’s not forget that a picture speaks a thousand words!


Dr Sue Pedersen www.drsue.ca © 2012

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