Today overweight and obesity in Malaysia is an issue of growing concern. Malaysia is now considered the fattest nation in South East Asia and has the second highest child obesity rate among children in ASEAN aged 5 to 19 years, with 7.1% of children under the age of 5 being overweight.
Obesity can be prevented before it’s too late by nurturing our kids with better food behaviours.Those that are taught at a young age tend to carry forward these behaviours to adult life.
That is all very well, but what tools do parents have to help them nurture their kids? One surprising weapon at the disposable of parents is the …… humble TV!
A study revealed that kids between the ages of 10-12 are 2.7 times more likely to switch to healthy eating habits after watching cooking shows featuring healthy food items.
The study sought to determine whether children who watched a cooking program showing healthy food would have a higher probability of choosing healthier foods.
The experiment was performed on 125 students aged between 10 to 12 who were put into 3 different groups. The first group watched a 10 minute TV cooking program showing healthy food. The second group watched a 10 minutes TV cooking program showing unhealthy food.
The third group did not watch a TV cooking program at all (control group). All children were offered a choice of 4 snacks at the end - 2 healthy and 2 unhealthy. They were allowed to choose only one snack.
The results were astounding. Children who watched the healthy program were far more likely to choose the healthy snack options.
Visual prominence of healthier options in both food choice and portion size on TV cooking programs leads young viewers to crave those healthier choices then act on those cravings.
So, in a nutshell, TV can be a promising tool for promoting positive changes in children’s food-related preferences, attitudes, and behaviours.