Babies and kids need to be given the same vegetable up to 10 times to increase their chance of liking them, a new study has found.
Repeated tastes of a vegie between the ages of six months and five years make it more likely kids will like them and eat more of them, Flinders University researchers have found.
There is even evidence that familiarity* with vegetable flavours in utero* and through breast milk can boost a child’s willingness to try vegies once they are old enough.
Other successful strategies* uncovered by researchers included offering vegetables – not fruit – as a first food, using non-food rewards and reading children vegetable-based story books.
The findings, reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, come as young kids are still refusing to eat enough nutritious* leafy greens and other vegetables.
The Australian Health Survey found only 6 per cent of children aged two to 17 ate the recommended servings of vegetables, leading experts to call for more practical advice for parents.
How carrots became orange (Phenomenom)
The analysis* from the Flinders University Caring Futures Institute and science agency CSIRO found a child’s like of vegetables could be set before they were even born.
“It appears that the maternal* diet also plays a part through exposure to vegetable flavours in-utero and increasing children’s chances of liking and eating them later, and the same goes for the mothers’ diet while breastfeeding,” said Flinders University Professor Rebecca Golley, who is deputy director of the Caring Futures Institute.
She said food preferences were established within a child’s first five years of life, which was why it was so important to establish healthy eating habits early.
“We know that a lack of vegetable consumption across the lifespan has effects on health, including an increased risk of chronic* diseases, obesity and being overweight,” she said.
- familiarity: be familiar with, know about something
- in utero: in the mother’s womb, before birth
- strategies: plans for doing something
- nutritious: has nutrients that are good for the body
- analysis: a detailed look into something
- maternal: to do with the mother
- chronic: happening for a long time or often
- How many times should children try a vegetable to increase the chance of liking it?
- Which University conducted this research?
- Name one of the other successful strategies the researchers found encouraged kids to eat vegetables.
- What percentage of children aged two to 17 ate the recommended servings of vegetables?
- What health problems can people have if they don’t eat enough vegetables during their life?
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1. Writing about vegies
Choose one of the following writing tasks to complete:
- Write a delicious kid-friendly recipe that includes at least five different vegetables
- Write a children’s fiction story that will make kids want to eat lots of vegies
Time: allow 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English
Conduct a survey to find out the most popular (or least popular) vegetable in your class. Each student may nominate their three favourite (or three least favourite) vegetables. Keep a tally and then present the results in a table or graph.
Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Mathematics
True Fact or White Lie?
Your parents have just read this article and have decided they would like to test this theory out on you, even though you are older. They would like to see if they can get you to like the vegetables you say you don’t like. Which means you’ll have to eat these vegetables at least 10 times each before the experiment is over and you can give your verdict.
But do you think this study is real or just a ploy to get parents to give their kids more vegetables?
Write a letter to your parents either agreeing or disagreeing with the researchers’ idea.
- Include what vegetable you don’t like and why
- Use emotive language to convey your point of view
- Include VCOP for a strong writer’s voice
- Edit and up-level your work before showing your parents