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Child Nutrition – Kid’s like Veggie Choice, but May not Eat Them

Posted Jan 19 2010 11:42am

By Colleen Hurley, RD, Certified Kid’s Nutrition Specialist

Kids and vegetables kind of go together like oil and water - or at least are certainly not synonymous. Parents and healthcare providers everywhere try (and try again) to come up with new ways to get kids to eat their veggies. One veggiekidcommon notion is that kids will be more inclined to eat a veggie they helped pick out, but a recent study found there may be little truth to that.

Parents are not the only ones who note children’s less than favorable attitude towards veggies, as researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands set out to discover how to encourage kids to warm up to vegetables. Dr. Cees de Graaf and colleagues compared whether giving 4 to 6 year olds their choice of veggie, or no choice, had any affect on how much produce the kids actually ate.

From the 156 boys and 147 girls in the study, researchers determined which of the 8 commonly served veggies was their favorite: carrots, beets, broccoli, red cabbage, French beans, peas, spinach, and cauliflower. During a restaurant meal with their parents, 110 kids had a pre-meal choice of equal amounts of 2 veggies the kids themselves had approved.  Another 97 had the same choice but only as the meal was served while yet another 97 discovered a vegetable of their liking on their plates.

Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study did not find any significant difference in the amount of veggies the kids ate. The tallies revealed the kids with pre-meal choice ate about 2 ounces, those with the at-mealtime choice ate just under 2 ounces, and those offered no choice at about 2.24 ounces. Though the consumption of veggies wasn’t very different a post meal survey revealed the kids were quite happy about being able to choose. Personality had come into play in this study as those kids who were described by parents as being “reactive”, or purposely doing the opposite of what they are told, ate half the amount of veggies in the no choice group than the more easy going dispositions.

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