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Strategies to Teach Kids to Like and Eat Vegetables

Strategies to Teach Kids to Like and Eat Vegetables

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Highlights :
  • Continuous exposure to a vegetable during the earlyyears can increase the chances of children liking vegetables
  • Through maternal diet, the children can be exposed to veggies even before they are born
  • Tailoring practical advice on how to offer vegetables to young children can increase intake

Nutrition and diabetes researchers have found solutions to get babies and children to eat vegetables for healthy living.

Authors of the study suggest that exposing a particular vegetable ten or more timeswhen the child is aged between six months and five years can increase the chances of them liking vegetables and eating more of them.


They also found that the child can be exposed to veggies even before it is born. Rebecca Golley, co-lead author, explained that maternal diet also exposes vegetable flavors in-utero and increases children's chances of liking and eating them later, and the same goes for the mothers' diet while breastfeeding.

This study reviewed 11 diverse international studies on sensory and behavioral strategies that support children to like certain foods, including vegetables, to determine the effectiveness of strategies including repeated exposure and variety of vegetables.

Review found that using strategies like offering vegetables (not fruit) as a first food, using non-food rewards to encourage eating veggies and reading children vegetable-based story books can increase the chances of kids eating vegetables more.

According to the Australian Health Survey, only 6% of children aged 2-17 years eat the recommended amount of vegetables. Experts state that tailoring practical advice on how to offer vegetables to young children through repeated exposure and daily variety for increasing their intake is essential.

"There is an opportunity to improve children's vegetable intake by including practical advice - the 'how to' in our recommendations to parents and caregivers," says Professor Golley.

She adds that since food preferences are established within a child's first five years of life, it's crucial to establish healthy eating behaviours early to support growth, development, and dietary habits.

Golley points out that a lack of vegetable consumption across the lifespan has effects on health, including an increased risk of chronic diseases, obesity and being overweight. Therefore, getting children to like a variety of vegetables such as green beans, peas, carrots and even brussels sprouts from an early age is very important.

She explains, "Early eating behaviors are impressionable and babies and young children can be supported to try different foods and to learn to like them."

The researchers recommend further research on these strategies to underpin advice for parents, health professionals and policymakers.

In conclusion, the study recommends strengthening dietary and infant feeding guidelines to include more practical advice on supporting children to learn to like and eat vegetables.

Reference :
  1. Supporting strategies for enhancing vegetable liking in the early years of life: an umbrella review of systematic reviews | The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition | Oxford Academic - (https://global.oup.com/?cc=in)

Source: Medindia

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