Getting children to eat their food can be quite a task for any parent.
But in a new study conducted by experts at the CSIRO Agriculture & Food, Sensory, Flavour and Consumer Science in Australia, it was found that repeatedly offering kids a variety of vegetables increases acceptance and consumption.
"In Australia, dietary guidelines for vegetable consumption by young children have increased although actual consumption is low," said lead author Dr. Astrid Poelman. "This study introduces an effective strategy for parents wanting to address this deficiency."
For the study, the researchers recruited 32 families with children between the ages of four and six. Parents completed surveys and meetings prior to participating, and three groups were created; children introduced to a single vegetable; children to receive multiple vegetables; and a group where eating habits were not changed.
Families introducing one vegetable served broccoli and families trying multiple vegetables served broccoli, zucchini, and peas. Parents were given a voucher to purchase the food, instructions on portion size, and cooking instructions, while children were served a small piece of vegetable three times a week for five weeks. A sticker was given as a reward to children trying a vegetable.
"Vegetable acceptance increased for both the single and multiple vegetable groups during the intervention. Families that offered multiple vegetables recorded an increase in consumption from .6 to 1.2 servings, while no change in consumption was observed in families serving a single vegetable or families that did not change their eating habits. Increased acceptance for multiple vegetables was noted during the five weeks of the study and sustained at three-month follow-up," the researchers reported.
Full study results have been published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.