Stealthy vegetables

Stealthy vegetables work: getting children to eat more

Good news for parents: You can get children to eat broccoli, tomatoes, courgette, cauliflower and squash — and like them. That’s according to new research out of the US… Researchers at Pennsylvania State University substituted those vegetables, puréed, in children’s meals, reducing each meal’s calories but keeping its weight the same. One day a week for three weeks, 40 children were randomly given regular meals, meals with three times as much vegetable content, or meals with four times as much vegetable content. The children were told to eat as much or as little as they wanted.

The 3- to 6-year olds, attendees at a day care centre, consumed the same amount of food by weight, regardless of whether the meals included puréed vegetables. But those who ate the meals with quadrupled vegetable content increased their total vegetable intake by 73 grams and reduced their calorie intake by about 12 percent during the study.

Asked to rate the taste yucky, OK or yummy, more than 70 percent of the children rated the vegetable-adulterated meals as OK or yummy. The study was published online July 20 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. See the abstract here

“The controversial aspect of this is that it’s deceptive,” said Maureen K Spill, the lead author and a postdoctoral fellow at Penn State. “But it’s just another way of making recipes healthier. It’s still important to get children to learn what vegetables look and taste like.”