Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Font Size
A
A
A

Colorful Meals May Appeal to Picky Eaters

Adding Color, Variety to Children’s Plates May Help Them Eat Healthier, Study Finds
By
WebMD Health News

Jan. 12, 2012 -- Is your child a picky eater? A new study may help you expand his or her palate.

Children prefer much more color and variety in food presentation, compared to adults, according to the study. For example, children preferred twice as many colors and different items on their plates.

Children also responded well to figurative designs on their plate, like bacon “smiles” and peas arranged into a heart shape.

Researchers say the results suggest that parents can encourage picky eaters to eat healthier by introducing more color and creativity to their plates.

“What kids find visually appealing is very different than what appeals to their parents,” Brian Wansink, PhD, professor of marketing at Cornell University, says in a news release. “Our study shows how to make the changes so the broccoli and fish look tastier than they otherwise would to little Casey or little Audrey.”

Kids Prefer Colorful Meals

In the study, published in Acta Paediatrica, researchers showed 23 pre-teen children and 46 adults full-size photos of different combinations of food on plates and asked them to choose which food presentations they liked the most.

The results showed children preferred plates with seven different items and six different colors, while adults favored plates with only three items and three colors.

“Compared with adults, children not only prefer plates with more elements and colors, but also their entrees placed in the front of the plate and with figurative designs,” researcher Kevin Kniffin, PhD, of Cornell University, says in the release.

Researchers found simple steps, like shaping a bacon strip into a smile at the bottom of the plate or arranging vegetables into fun shapes, made the food presentation much more appealing to children.

They say the next step is to test whether picky eaters actually eat what they say looks good enough to eat.

If so, giving children a wide array of foods on their plates may widen their palates and help them eat healthier.

Today on WebMD

family walking on the beach
Slideshow
two boys in a swing
Article
 
mistakes_parents_make_with_toddlers_2.jpg
Article
woman with cleaning products
Slideshow
 
mother and daughter talking
Tool
child brushing his teeth
Slideshow
 
Sipping hot tea
Slideshow
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Video
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
Article
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
 
tissue box
Quiz
Child with adhd
Slideshow