Colour and design of meals has special appeal to children, study finds

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 9th January 2012

A new study by American and British scientists has found that colourful food appeals more to children than adults.

The study, published in the January 2012 issue of the American journal Acta Paediatrica, found that meals with seven different items and six different colours are particularly appealing to children, while adults tend to prefer fewer colours ‑ only three items and three colours.

Cornell University’s professor of marketing, Professor Brian Wansink and the study’s co-authors, Kevin Kniffin and Mitsuru Shimizu, who are Cornell postdoctoral research associates, and Francesca Zampollo of London Metropolitan University, presented 23 preteen children and 46 adults with full-size photos of 48 different combinations of food on plates that varied by number of items, placement of entrée and organization of the food.

Professor Brian Wansink said, “What kids find visually appealing is very different than what appeals to their parents. Our study shows how to make the changes so the broccoli and fish look tastier than they otherwise would to a child.”

Co-author Kevin Kniffin added, “Compared with adults, children not only appear to prefer plates with more elements and colours, but also their entrees placed in the front of the plate and with figurative designs.

“While much of the research concerning food preferences among children and adults focuses on taste, smell and chemical aspects, we will build on findings that demonstrate that people appear to be significantly influenced by the shape, size and visual appearance of food that is presented to them,” he said.