Children are notoriously picky eaters and parents may struggle to get them to eat the daily recommended amount of vegetables. This problem is compounded by readily available high-fat, salty, and sweet food products often lacking adequate nutrition, resulting in parents who give up on trying to get their kids to turn to healthier alternatives. Scientists have revealed a method that may change that, however, and it involves exposure to a large variety of vegetables.
Though the daily recommended consumption of vegetables for kids varies based on country, the dietary guidelines are generally similar. The American Heart Association, for example, recommends that kids start getting 25- to 35-percent of their daily calories from low-fat foods, including vegetables, at age 4. Diets high in refined and processed foods may put kids at risk of obesity, leptin resistance, digestive troubles, poor nutrition, and more.
Despite these recommendations, parents in many countries report difficulty getting their kids to eat enough vegetables. According to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, young kids in Australia are eating even fewer vegetables than usual despite revised guidelines that recommend increased consumption.
In order to find a way to help parents who are struggling with their kids’ diets, the study evaluated methods for boosting vegetable intake using 32 families with kids ages 4 to 6 years. Different strategies were tested: the first involved offering kids a single vegetable and the other involved offering multiple vegetables at the same time.
The researchers note that families who offered their kids multiple vegetable options saw the number of servings their kids ate increase from .6 to 1.2. As well, after five weeks and again after three months, the researchers found that kids were more receptive to eating vegetables, though they still weren’t hitting the daily recommended minimum.