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Framing food: Stanford study shows that teens heed food rules that prioritize health

According to a new study by Stanford researchers, teens who have health-oriented food rules at home are more likely to make healthy eating decisions on their own. (Image credit: Getty Images)

May 14 2018

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In the News, Students

Stanford researchers surveyed how adolescents make independent food decisions. They found that when teens have health-oriented food rules at home, they are more likely to eat healthier on their own.

By Melissa De Witte

It turns out that kids are paying more attention than you think when you say broccoli is good for them.

According to a new study by Stanford researchers, adolescents who have health-oriented food rules at home are more likely to make healthy eating decisions on their own.

The finding is good news for parents who want their kids to eat their vegetables.

“It is important for parents to understand whether having food rules – and more specifically, what kinds of food rules – may help encourage healthy eating,” wrote Stanford doctoral candidates Jennifer Wang and Priya Fielding-Singh in a study published May 14 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Wang and Fielding-Singh found that rules centered around health – for example, only allowing junk food for special occasions; or that a vegetable must be eaten at dinner – may be effective because they emphasize the importance of considering healthiness when making food choices.

Rules unrelated to health, such as no cell phones at the dinner table, had no effect on guiding teens to make healthy food decisions.