Spring 2009. Retrieved online October 6, 2009 by Staff NMSU Research & Resources
Making kids eat all of the food on their dinner plates is supposed to help them grow big and strong. But now a New Mexico State University researcher believes making kids clean their plates may actually harm their long-term health.
“Cleaning your plate may have been a good idea during World War II because of food rationing, but now it’s just a recipe for becoming obese,” said Collin Payne, a marketing professor in NMSU’s College of Business. Payne studied the issue with Brian Wansink, a researcher at Cornell University.
Payne said for the past 25 years, there has been a steady increase in the amount of obesity in the U.S. He suggests that, because Americans have become more busy, we don’t pay attention to what we eat only focusing on convenience and taste.
One of the side effects of a culture of demanding more food is that today’s dinner plates are much larger than they used to be. With larger plates, it takes more food to make the dish look full and children who are made to eat everything on their plates today are actually eating more than their parents or grandparents ever did, without even realizing it.
Payne believes if a person has unhealthy eating habits as a child, they are more likely to have the same habits when they are older. Payne also believes parents should try to do a better job of marketing healthy food to their children.
“It’s amazing to see how flexible our tastes are,” he said. “If you tell your kids to eat their broccoli, they probably won’t like it. If you tell them that it’s not broccoli, but that it’s really a ‘dinosaur tree,’ they are more likely to enjoy its crunchiness and texture.”