Kids and veggies
We all know the health benefits of eating fruit and vegetables. Yet in Australia only 61 per cent of four to eight year olds eat the recommended daily intake of fruit and less than 25 per cent eat their necessary vegetables. Every parent knows that getting children to eat their vegetables can be a difficult, and dispiriting, task.
For all those struggling parents a new study has used a program that has had great success in promoting kidâ€™s veggie consumption.
For the research a group of four to five year olds was gathered. The children were put on a program that involved them planting vegetable seeds, having fruit and vegetable tasting parties, cooking vegetable soup, and finally, watching Popeye cartoons (presumably as an example of spinach eating rather than an example in elocution). Parents were also sent tips on how to encourage vegetable eating and teachers sat with the children at lunch and snack times to be role models of healthy eating.
As a result of all of these interventions the total amount of vegetables eaten by the children doubled and the types of vegetables eaten increased from two to four on average. Parents reported that their children were proud when they ate their vegetables and talked more about eating them.
The two key things to take away from this study have also been supported by other research. First, sitting next to children and eating the same things as they are makes them feel special and helps them identify with the foods they eat. Secondly, getting involved in the growing and preparation of foods helps children connect to their food.
The exact power of the Popeye factor in this study remains to be established but one hopes that a subliminal urge to dance the hornpipe and smoke a corn-cob pipe does not manifest in later years.