How serving more vegetable meals in preschool children may increase their consumption

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, a study in the journal Appetite found that serving more portions of vegetables to young children may increase their consumption of those foods.

The study was conducted at Penn State University.

According to Penn State researchers, the doubling of certain vegetables, like broccoli, led to a 68 percent increase in vegetable consumption. The addition of butter or seasoning did not impact the consumption of vegetables.

The study involved 67 children in early childhood, most of which were female.

“This study investigated the independent and combined effects on preschool children’s vegetable intake of serving a larger portion of vegetables and enhancing their flavor,” researchers wrote in their study.

“All versions of vegetables were well-liked, as indicated by ≥ 76% of the children rating them as “yummy” or “just okay”. Serving a larger portion of vegetables at a meal was an effective strategy to promote vegetable intake in children, but when well-liked vegetables were served, adding butter and salt was not necessary to increase consumption,” researchers also stated.

“We’re working on additional research that looks into substituting vegetables for other food instead of just adding more vegetables. In the future, we may be able to give recommendations about portion size and substituting vegetables for other foods, so we can both limit waste and promote veggie intake in children,” said one co-author of the study.

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