On the naughty step - conduct that deserves a ticking off

This week: food myths

We can all recite the benefits of certain foodstuffs just as we can our times tables or even the alphabet. Carrots, as we all know, give you the ability to see in the dark. Spinach gives you the strength of Popeye, while Brussels sprouts give you, well, wind.

But far from being persuaded to eat their vegetables by old wives' tales, it appears that generations of children are more likely to be turned off their greens if they're told they are good for them.

A recent study based on a series of experiments involving 270 preschool children found that the tots were more likely to eat a particular food if they were told it was tasty, or if they were told nothing at all, than if it was said to be healthy.

Researchers at the University of Chicago, who carried out the study, say this suggests that young children do not believe food can serve two purposes, such as being both delicious and good for you.

So for turning millions of young noses up at the sight of a simple turnip, a well-rounded radish or even a noble onion, it is off to the naughty step with the fantastical food myth. We might find the stories enjoyable but they do more harm than good, it seems.

And the moral of the tale is that if you are going to lie to your children about food, just tell them it's yummy rather than saying they'll end up with night vision.

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