Children at Play: An Innovative Method for Studying and Teaching Nutritional Behaviors
Children under 6 years of age are one of the key groups for interventions establishing lifelong nutritional behaviors that will promote health and prevent obesity. Adults in young children's social environments play important roles in encouraging healthy nutritional behaviors. Parents, childcare providers, and teachers must teach children healthy eating behaviors in age-appropriate and applicable ways. Researchers need to determine as completely as possible how children learn nutritional behaviors. Current research methods and teaching approaches continue to challenge researchers and parents alike in achieving these important goals. This article details the need for developing new approaches to nutritional behavior development in children and describes the theoretical background and practical applications of one such novel approach: play-based settings. It explores the possibilities play-based settings offer for studying and developing healthy nutritional behaviors in young children. Following further refinement of this method, future research and practice in children's nutritional behavior development should benefit from this new approach.