Added colour can benefit fussy eaters

Parents whose children are fussy with their food may find adding colour to proceedings make healthier meals more attractive to the little ones. New research published in Acta Paediatrica revealed plates that boast a range of shades can make certain foods more appealing for youngsters.

Investigators from Cornell University found kids enjoy a dish with seven different items and six colours, while adults prefer fewer shades when eating.

Brian Wansink, Professor of Marketing in Cornell's Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management - which is located in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences - noted that young people tend to find different products more visually appealing than their older counterparts.

Professor Wansink added: "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."

In addition, it was demonstrated that youngsters often prefer their starters to be placed in front of their plate, while also enjoying food served up in figurative designs.

Dr Gill Harris, Chartered Psychologist, commented: "Adults tend to either eat in social groups, or read or watch television whilst eating.

"We tend to do something other than just eat. Young children who are fussy eaters find mealtimes either boring or stressful; they cannot really engage in the social interactions that might be going on between adults and are usually not allowed to watch TV or play games at the meal table.

"Colourful plates with characters that might tell a story are therefore going to engage young children more at mealtimes than a plain or less stimulating plate. Young children are attracted to visually complex stimuli.

"The fussy eater is therefore going to sit at the table longer and engage with their food a little better if they are stimulated and to some extent distracted from the food that they are required to eat.

"Studies on adults and adolescents have shown that distraction at meal times increases intake, therefore the colourful plate is a good idea for poor eaters."