By Mailonline Reporter
Getting children to eat their greens is notoriously difficult.
But a brand new smartphone app may offer parents a helping hand by making vegetables more psychologically appealing to their youngsters.
That’s the claim made by researchers at Aston, Loughborough and De Montfort Universities, who’ve developed a new program in association with the British Psychological Society.
The result is Vegetable Maths Masters, which ‘exposes children between the ages of 3 and 7 years old to vegetables via a game’.
To play, children choose a character, then feed them a variety of ten vegetables throughout the game. The said character is happy and animated when they eat these and gives positive verbal feedback.
In addition, children also earn stars as they complete problems. This, experts say, reinforces positive reactions about vegetables in the child’s brain, making them more likely to willingly consume them during meal times.
In turn, this helps them to achieve their government-advised goal of eating five servings of fruit and vegetables per day (although a child’s portion size is considered the size of their palm).
Dr Claire Farrow, Aston University said: ‘We have developed an app which draws on psychological research to integrate different methods known to increase interest in vegetables and eagerness to try them. ’These include repeated exposure to real images of vegetables, token rewards for playing with vegetables and ‘feeding’ them to other children / characters.
‘Social norms also influence food preferences, for example if child characters in the game like and enjoy eating vegetables, research suggests that children are more likely to try them.’
Professor Emerita Carol McGuiness, Chair of the British Psychological Society’s Education and Public Engagement Board said: ‘The British Psychological Society welcomes the successful launch of Vegetable Maths Masters.
‘This fun mobile technology game for young children combines the best psychological evidence on encouraging children’s health eating habits with developing their early maths skills.’
EXPLAINED: THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET
Consuming more fruit and fish, and fewer sugary drinks and snacks, are the most important aspects of a Mediterranean diet.
Fish and meat
Monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil
Saturated fats, like butter
Processed foods, like juice and white bread
How you can follow it:
Eat more fish
Squeeze more fruit & veg into every meal
Swap your sunflower oil or butter for extra virgin olive oil
Snack on nuts
Eat fruit for dessert