The next time you are chided for bad behavior, blame it on the whole apple, pear or pretty much any uncut food that your parents packed in your lunch box. That's because biting into anything that requires the use of the front teeth, is likely to cause rowdy behavior in kids! At least that's the conclusion some researchers from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, have reached, after observing the behavior of 12 elementary school students at a summer camp.
The study whose results were published last month in the scientific journal, Eating Behavior, was led by Brian Wansink, Professor and Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. The researchers began by dividing the 6-10 year-olds into two groups.
On the first day, one group was given chicken on the bone - a food that they had to lift and bite into with their front teeth. The other was provided with the same chicken, except it was cut into dainty, bite-size pieces so that the only way to consume it, was with a fork. The following day, the foods were switched, so that the first group received the small pieces and cutlery, while the second, enjoyed the poultry on the bone. Each day, the camp counselors also gave the kids strict instructions to remain within a circle with a 9-foot radius.
The researchers diligently videotaped both the meal sessions and then asked behavioral experts, as well as, the camp counselors who were supervising the kids, to evaluate what ensued. Both agreed that the kids that were asked to bite the foods were twice as likely to exhibit aggressive behavior and disobey the adults, than those that were focused on eating their food with cutlery. If that isn't bad enough, the former group was also more likely to leave their assigned circle and even, stand and jump on the picnic tables!
This has led Mr. Wansink and his team to conclude that for some reason, kids that bite into their food are more likely to exhibit bad behavior than those forced to eat with cutlery. Hence, he advices parents that wish to enjoy a peaceful meal to cut up any foods they serve to their kids!
Resource: foodpsychology.cornell.edu, sciencedaily.com