BBC News reports that the study examined the eating habits of more than 2,000 five-year-olds and their families.
One of the findings was that “child-friendly” meal alternatives are often less nutritious than the main menu.
"Offering separate 'children's food' for a main meal may often result in children missing out nutritionally,” said Valeria Skafida, the author of the paper.
The study also found several other factors that can keep kids healthy and impart them with good eating habits.
How and when families eat makes a big difference. The study found that those who skipped a meal, snacked often, ate their food in a living or bedroom rather than a dining room on a regular basis had worse diets.
Tone makes a difference too. Children were negatively affected when there was an “unpleasant atmosphere” during meals.
The study also found that firstborn children tend to have a healthier diet than siblings who come after them.
The report concluded that more needs to be done to help parents foster good eating habits in their children when they are young.