For those parents desperately looking to encourage their children to eat more nutritious food, there is good news!

Researchers from Cornell University in the U.S. have discovered that children tend to prefer more food that has considerable colour and eat more if their plates have the required colours.

The scientists experimented with seven different food items and six different colours.

During the experiment, the researchers presented 23 pre-teen children and 46 adults with full-sized photos of 48 different combinations of food on plates that varied by number of items, placement of entrée and organization of food. They discovered children prefer food that is very colourful and well-presented on a colourful plate. Furthermore, not only do they prefer plates with more elements and colors but also like their entrees placed in the front of the plate with figurative designs.

"What kids find visually appealing is very different than what appeals to their parents," said Brian Wansink, a professor of Marketing at Cornell's Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, "Our study shows how to make the changes so the broccoli and fish look tastier than they otherwise would to little Casey or little Audrey."

"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," said Kevin Kniffin, a researcher at Cornell University.