On the naughty step conduct that deserves a ticking off

30th May 2014 at 01:00
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.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today