If preschoolers are given more vegetables in the first course of lunch, they are likely to eat more vegetables, new research has revealed.
Penn State nutrition researchers conducted several experiments based on the portion of nutrient-rich, low-calorie foods given to children and adults and found some interesting results.
Children were provided with no carrots or 30 grams (about 1 ounce), 60 grams (about 2 ounces), or 90 grams (about 3 ounces) of carrots as the first course of their lunch.
The children had 10 minutes to eat the carrots, after which researchers served them pasta, broccoli, unsweetened applesauce, and low-fat milk.
The result was that as the veggie portions of the first course of the meal were increased, so did the consumption for subsequent veggie portions.
When the children received 30 grams (about 1 ounce) of carrots at the start of the meal, their broccoli intake rose by nearly 50 percent compared to having no carrots as a first course. But when the first course was increased to 60 grams (about 2 ounces) of carrots, average broccoli consumption nearly tripled to about 63 grams -- or a third of the recommended vegetable intake for preschool children.
"We gave the children carrots first without other competing foods," explained Barbara J. Rolls, Helen A. Guthrie Chair of Nutritional Sciences. "When they are hungry at the start of the meal, it presents us with an opportunity to get them to eat more vegetables."
This study not only suggested that a healthy veggie snack may prompt more appetite for vegetables, but also challenged the fact that children do not like veggies.
The team's findings appear in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.