London: Parents, please note, don't pester your children too much to "eat their greens", for a new study says that youngsters eat less if moms and dads nag.

A new study led by the Pennsylvania and Appalachian state universities has revealed that constantly badgering youngsters to finish foods that they don't like can actually turn out to be counter-productive.

Toddlers are more likely to eat nutritious but not very appealing foods if they aren't put under pressure, media reported.

In tests conducted by the researchers, a group of four-year-olds who were nagged to finish bowls of corn or butternut squash soup consumed less than those who were left to get on with it.

The study said, "Pressurising children to eat was not effective in promoting intake. These findings provide evidence that the use of pressure contributes to lower intake and can foster negative responses to foods.

"In fact, children were more likely to increase their intake of an initial unfamiliar food if they were not pressured to eat it."

Child psychologist Dr Richard Woolfson said although constant badgering of children does not work, it's unlikely that leaving them completely to their own devices does either.

"I think the answer is gentle encouragement rather than a full-scale battle," he advised.

(Agencies)