Study on Encouraging Children to Eat More Vegetables

Study on Encouraging Children to Eat More Vegetables

Kids Should Eat More Vegetables

Nutrition experts emphasize the importance of eating vegetables to maintain good health. This is true not only with adults but with kids, too. Exposing the children to nice photos of vegetables encourage them to actually eat vegetables, according to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association.

Details and Results of the Study

A trial test conducted by researchers showed that children were enticed to eat more vegetables when they see the photos of vegetables pasted on their school lunch trays.

Dr. Marla Reicks from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis reported the following results of the trial experiment. The elementary school children who ate green beans as a result of seeing the pictures on the trays doubled in number, while those who ate carrots tripled in number.

The researchers explained this change in the children’s behavior this way. The photos on the trays appear to tell the children that other people are putting vegetables on the particular tray compartments and that they ought to do the same thing.

To get an exact picture of what happened, the elementary school students in Richfield, Minnesota were allowed to use school lunch trays with photos of vegetables on them one day. It turned out that 37 percent of the kids ate carrots that day and 15 percent ate some green beans.

What’s significant about the above results is the big difference in the kids’ vegetable consumption a day before the trial experiment. Only 12 percent of the students ate carrots and only 6 percent ate green beans when the school cafeteria used their regular trays.

The researchers also noted that the students were able to choose orange slices or apple sauce in exchange for the vegetables being served. These two fruit options are very popular among some kids so that the visual cue to get the vegetables didn’t make a difference for some kids.

Besides the differences mentioned above, everything remained the same. As usual, the cafeteria served the main course together with the standard portions of fruits and vegetables.

Recommendations

The result of this trial study may not meet the government recommendations with regards to vegetable consumption among kids, but it made a point that using visual cues can help improve the current nutrition situation.

It doesn’t take much effort or money to implement the addition of photos on the school lunch trays. In the case of this study, it only took 20 minutes and $3 to prepare 100 trays. But the resulting increase in the rate of consumption of vegetables was within the acceptable limits.

To learn more about how effective this setup can be, it is recommended to do further research, perhaps in other schools and for longer time periods, says Dr. Reicks.

Photo credits: Fresh vegetable cups by U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr, CC By 2.0

Categories: Nutrition
Tags: school meals

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