Children's books show all kinds of things, from the everyday to the fantastical. Food definitely makes an appearance, so researchers counted up what kinds of food are portrayed and what messages books send about them. Junk food, it turns out, got very positive portrayals.
"It's not that you shouldn't have ice cream in books, but people should be aware of what the underlying message is," says Jane Goldman, who led the study, which is published in Appetite. Ice cream was almost always portrayed as a treat, a happy ending or a tool to make someone feel better.
Sweets in general were portrayed in a positive light 80 per cent of the time, compared to 18 per cent for vegetables. And most of the adults that the researchers interviewed didn't even notice food in the books at all.
This all means it might be a good idea to pay attention to what messages children's books are sending about food. Even if you don't use food as a reward in your house, your kids could be picking up ideas along those lines from the stories they read and watch. Now that you know these messages about food are in their books, you can consider whether and how you'd like to talk about them with your kids.
If your child is among the many who are picky about their food, you know it's a constant struggle to expand their food repertoire and get them to love more foods. Chop Chop's 10 rules for picky-free parenting could help alleviate some of the tension.
Children's Books May Boost Appetite for Unhealthy Foods [UConn Today]