Researchers find simple, sneaky way to get kids to eat more vegetables

Vegetables, with all of their beneficial plant chemicals and high levels of fiber, play an important role in health. Despite that, many people don't get enough vegetables in their diet, particularly children who may find the texture or flavor of these plant foods less than appealing. Many methods have been developed in an effort to increase a child's vegetable consumption, but few are as simple as the one reported by Penn State.

According to the new study, adding things like salt and butter to vegetables may not get kids to eat a greater quantity of them. However, simply putting more vegetables on a child's plate was all it took to get kids in the study to increase their vegetable consumption.

The research involved broccoli and corn, the serving size of which was increased from 60 grams to 120 grams. When the serving size was increased, the kids ate 68-percent more of the veggies than when given the smaller portion size. This amounted to an extra 21 grams of veggies, nudging them closer to the daily recommended amount of 1.5 cups.

Increasing the portion size alone may not be enough to get kids to the recommended daily serving size, however, with the researchers noting that it's also important to serve a child the vegetables they actually like eating. Slowly introducing young eaters to new types of vegetables, as well as different seasonings and ways of cooking them, may also increase the number of servings they get.

The research involved 67 kids who were ages 3 to 5 years. Other foods served alongside the vegetables included fish sticks, rice, milk, and applesauce. The researchers point out that the veggies will need to compete with other foods on the plate, so while you should serve them something they'll eat, it may backfire to give the kids vegetables alongside their favorite foods like chicken nuggets.