Is Your Child A Fussy Eater? This Research Shows How Kids Want Their Food Arranged

A study looked at three different serving styles of food to see what was the most popular.

If your child is constantly moving food around on their plates without actually eating, it could be down to how their dinner is arranged on the plate.

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen analysed at the serving style of food for children to find out whether kids preferred their dinner served in a particular way, and whether age and gender made a difference.

The study asked 100 kids, aged 7-8 and 12-14 years, to make a priority list of photos of six different dishes served in three different ways: 1) with the elements of the food presented separately so they did not touch each other; 2) as a mix of separate ingredients and ingredients that were mixed together; and 3) with all the food mixed together.

The study showed that the younger girls (aged 7-8) prefer their food to be served separately and not touching, while boys of the same age do not have a preference for how the food is arranged.

The research also showed that children between 12 and 14 prefer food to be either mixed together or served as a mix of separate and mixed-together ingredients. The research does not say why younger girls prefer to have their food served as separate ingredients.

“One suggestion could be that they believe that the different ingredients could contaminate each other,” said Annemarie Olsen, who, based on the research, advises parents to serve food separated on the plate - at least when it comes to the younger age groups.

“But it could also be that they prefer to eat the different elements in a certain order or that the clear delineation just provides a better overview. The child can mix the food when the various elements of the food are separated on the plate, while the reverse is not possible.”

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