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How to get kids to eat more vegetables
Many parents have problems motivating their children to eat vegetables. Researchers have now found that children should not be praised for actually eating their vegetables. According to the experts, the right way to get the children to eat the vegetables they don't like is simply to confront the little ones again and again.
In their research, scientists from Ghent University in Belgium found that children can be made easier to eat vegetables if they are simply confronted with the hated vegetables again and again. Doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Food Quality and Preference".
Praise and reward are wrong
Many children refuse to eat the vegetables in their meals. The children do not seem to like the taste and they usually prefer to eat unhealthy foods such as French fries and pizza. Parents often try to motivate their children to eat more vegetables by praising their offspring or by giving them small rewards when they consume small amounts of different types of vegetables. However, this seems to be the wrong way.
Repeated exposure to vegetables leads to more consumption
A better way to get children to eat more vegetables that the offspring doesn't usually like is to confront them with these vegetables over and over again. In the researchers' experiments, children were repeatedly offered vegetables, which increased the likelihood that they would eventually eat the vegetables and that they would taste better compared to children
received a reward for eating vegetables, say the doctors.
98 childhood subjects participated in the study
For the study, the psychologists at Ghent University in Belgium examined a total of 98 preschool children. The experts analyzed the children's reaction to ten different types of vegetables, which were either steamed or cooked. These examined vegetables included fennel, chicory, zucchini, mushrooms, peas, leeks, Brussels sprouts, beetroot, spinach and cauliflower. A taste test revealed that chicory tasted the least of the young participants.
Children repeatedly rated the taste of chicory
The children got a bowl of steamed chicory and should choose how much of it they want to eat. After eight minutes, they were asked to rate the dish with so-called cartoon facial expressions as delicious, just OK or disgusting. This experiment was carried out twice a week for a month, followed by a taste test after eight weeks.
Some participants received different rewards
The children were divided into three groups during the study, with one group asked to try the chicory bowl repeatedly without further encouragement, while the other two groups received rewards in the form of stickers, toys, or verbal praise.
Results of the investigation
The results showed that after the trial, 81 percent of the children who simply tried the chicory without receiving a reward consumed the vegetables. If the children received toys or stickers as a reward for consumption, the value was only 68 percent. When the children were praised orally, 75 percent consumed the vegetables.
Repeated exposure is the best way
All parents know how difficult it is to get children to eat their vegetables. Many parents therefore offer the children various rewards or sweets in return for the children to eat their vegetables. However, the results underline that repeated exposure is the best way to get the children to eat vegetables, the study authors explain. (as)