Mahidol University researchers in Bangkok found the type and amount of vegetables children consumed improved after they participated in a program using videos and role models to promote healthy food.
Professor Chutima Sirikulchayanonta lead researcher said: “We got the children planting vegetable seeds, taking part in fruit and vegetable tasting parties, cooking vegetable soup, and watching Popeye cartoons. Each parent received a letter with tips on encouraging children to eat fruit and vegetables, and teachers sat with children at lunch to role model healthy eating.”
Professor Sirikulchayanonta and the other researchers found that vegetable intake went up 100% and the kinds of vegetables the children consumed increased from two to four servings. Parents also stated their children talked about vegetables more often and were proud they had eaten them in their school lunch.
She stated there were no changes in the types of fruit eaten by the kids, but this was because they were already consuming more fruit than vegetables at the start of the research study.
Studies have concluded that food habits and eating patterns developed in early childhood continue into later childhood and adulthood. Professor Sirikulchayanonta said focusing on healthy food choices at an early age can have a major impact on the future health of adults.
The study also highlights that:
- Sitting next to children and eating the same foods as them makes children feel special
- Involving children in food preparation activities, like pouring, measuring and stirring helps children learn the names and colors of foods.
- Tasting parties are fun way for children to try different fruit and vegetables
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