September 22, 2019

Researchers find evidence that this simple strategy increases children’s veggie consumption

We know that getting children to eat enough vegetables can be tough, and frustrating if your child is a particularly picky eater. That’s why we offer a Family Box at DayToDay aimed at families with fussy kids. 

Food preferences are largely learned and childhood is a critical phase – by learning to love veggies at a young age kids are more likely to carry through these habits as they grow older. 

A new study has just been published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior which evaluated if repeated exposure to vegetables increases young children’s vegetable intake. The children in this Australian study were between the ages of 4 and 6 and did not consume many vegetables before, they typically ate less than 2 servings per day. The children were divided into three groups: in one, children were served a single vegetable (broccoli) 3 times a week for five weeks; in another group, they were served three different types (broccoli, peas and zucchini) of vegetables 3 times a week for five weeks; and another group was used for comparison – they did not change their vegetable eating habits. The children’s acceptance and consumption was recorded and a 3 month follow up was also done to see if their veggie eating habits changed after the study.  Families from the second group that offered multiple vegetables recorded an increase in consumption from 0.6 to 1.2 servings, and consumption did not change in the other 2 groups. That means children served with multiple vegetable choices accepted eating vegetables more than the other groups. Vegetable acceptance in this group increased after the study and was maintained at the 3 month follow up. 

Although this was just a pilot study and the number of children in the study was small, the results emphasize how crucial it is to expose children to a variety of vegetables simultaneously. The results also show that offering a variety of vegetables repeatedly improves acceptance over time. So don’t give up your your child didn’t eat a particular veggie the first time they were served it – after repeatedly being exposed they may come to not only accept, but love it. Our healthy Meal Boxes and LunchBox Kits always contain a variety of fresh, seasonal veggies. Because variety is the spice of life after all.