Six colours of food is key to getting children to eat up (forming fun shapes will boost appeal too)
Youngsters drawn to dishes containing six colours
Preference for food formed into fun shapes'What children find visually appealing is very
different than parents', say scientists
If your child refuses to eat what's on their plate then help might be at hand.
According to a study, producing meals in six different colours will boost a young person's appetite.
While dishes arranged into fun shapes, such as hearts or smiley faces will have even more appeal.
Scientists have found youngsters are more likely to clear their plate when there is more colour and choice
Researchers suggest the findings could prompt new ways of encouraging more nutritionally diverse diets.
Lead researcher Brian Wansink from Cornell University, in New York, said: 'What children find visually appealing is very
different than parents.
'Unfortunately, when we parents plate food for them, we do it in a way that is appealing to us and not to them.
'Our study shows how to make the
changes so the broccoli and fish look tastier.'
Researchers presented 23
children and 46 adults with photographs of 48 different
combinations of food on plates.
The scientists found youngsters were
much more likely to clear their plate when there was more colour and
choice than adults would typically choose.
Children prefer up to six colours, while adults tend to like just three.
Children also preferred the main part
of the meal – such as the meat – at the front of the plate and were
especially particular about food being attractively arranged.
Rainbow coloured cauliflowers were launched by Tesco to boost appeal
Professor Wansink and fellow
researchers from London Metropolitan University suggest parents can use
bacon to form a smiley face or peas to make a heart.
He said: 'Compared with
adults, children not only prefer plates with more elements and colours,
but also main items placed in the front of the plate and with figurative
'People appear to be significantly influenced by the shape, size and visual appearance of food that is presented to them.'
He added that other studies concerning food preferences have focused on taste and smell as opposed to aesthetics.
Co-author Kevin Kniffin said: 'The findings suggest young children
aren't just 'little adults.' In other words, we shouldn't assume that
they share our views of the world.'
The study is published in the
January issue of Acta Paediatrica.
Last summer Tesco unveiled 'rainbow' packs containing sprigs of purple, orange and emerald green cauliflower aimed at youngsters reluctant to eat their greens.