To eat more vegetables, children need variety: study
Kids look at vegetables at a grocery store in this undated photo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Dietitians of Canada)
Want your child to eat more vegetables? Rather than smothering broccoli in sauce or cutting carrots into fun shapes, a new study suggests a simple solution: just offer them a lot of variety.
Researchers from the University of Leeds, the University of Bourgogne, and the University of Copenhagen analyzed some 250 preschool children living in the UK, Denmark, and France, with mothers completing surveys about how often their children consumed various vegetables and whether or not they liked them, LiveScience reported.
Findings set to appear in the December issue of the journal Appetite showed that the more frequently a particular veggie was offered to a child, the more he or she was likely to enjoy eating it. Also, mothers reported that children ages six months to one year liked vegetables more than two- and three-year olds. In addition, kids tended to like vegetables that their mothers frequently ate, and their enjoyment of vegetables wasn't related to how they were prepared.
The results also reveal some cultural differences in how parents prepare vegetables for their kids: French mothers tend to puree or mash vegetables, while Danish mothers boil them or serve them raw. British mothers were more likely to boil or steam vegetables, or serve them raw.
Top vegetable choices among the children in the study were carrots, followed by broccoli, peas, sweet corn, and cucumber. On average, children in the study had been offered an average of 17 of the 36 vegetables included in the survey.
A separate study published earlier this year in the journal Psychological Science found that teaching kids about nutrition can boost their vegetable intake. Scientists from Stanford University in the U.S. found that even very young children benefit from a conceptual framework that encourages them to understand why eating a variety of foods is healthy, the researchers said.
The result: kids eat more vegetables by choice.