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"Flashy" Fruit Entices Kids to Munch More

A new study has found that when it comes to getting kids to eat more fruit, the secret is in the presentation.

Dutch researchers out of Maastricht University were looking for ways to get kids to eat their colors, and what they discovered was another way to annoy parents. It’s bad enough I have to wash the fruit and wash the fruit, now I need to make it look pretty, too? From Yahoo! News:

Researchers divided children into three groups, which were all presented with the two plates of fruit. In the first session, one group was told not to eat from the plate of visually appealing fruit, while another was told not to eat from the plate of regular fruit, and a third group was told they could eat from any plate. In a second session, all children were told they could eat from any plate of fruit.

The kids ate on average 4.8 ounces (135 grams) of the visually appealing fruit and about 2.6 ounces (73 grams) of the regular fruit.

It needs to be noted that the “regular” fruit was skewered and presented on a plate — fruit kabob style.  The visually appealing fruit was skewered and stuck into a watermelon.  The bar, it has been set pretty high.

Honestly, I think this is something most parents have already figured out.  Both of my girls have had tea party birthday parties in the last two years, and I already knew to double up on the fruit skewers.  They go faster than the tiny little petit fours.  But I don’t have time to skewer fruit every day, let alone dress a watermelon in it.

And then there’s this nugget from the BBC:

Attractive packaging and “perhaps adding a little toy, like the toy that comes with a Happy Meal, to the packaging could make this kind of snack even more appealing”, they told the journal.

Uh, no. No thank you. A) Whole fruit doesn’t typically have packaging, and B) when it does, it doesn’t need to come with a cheap piece of landfill-bound plastic like a box of Cap’n Crunch or a Happy Meal.

Fun and flashy fruit is great, but a better way to get kids to eat more fruit is to make it visible and easily accessible and to keep junky treats out of reach (or better yet, at the store). I’ve got a picky eater at home that will only eat peanut butter sandwiches and cereal, and even she will snarf down a bowl of strawberries or a plum in two minutes flat.

Or, you could stock up on watermelons.  How does this study relate with your experience with getting your kids to eat more fruit?

Photo: .bala, Flickr

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