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A study done by researchers at Penn State found that putting more vegetables on your child’s plate will make them eat more vegetables. The study involved 67 children between the age of 3 and 5  in a period of 4 weeks. They found that doubling corn or broccoli from 60g to 120g led to the children eating about 68% of their vegetables.

Children in the U.S do not reach the recommended daily amount for vegetables

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services recommend that children have about 1.5 cups of vegetables in a day. Many children in the U.S do not reach this goal. The reason could be a general dislike for vegetables.

According to Hanim Diktas, a graduate in nutritional science, the increase amounted to about 12% of the recommended daily amount.

The director of Penn State’s Laboratory for the study of human Ingestive Behaviour, Barbara Rolls, says the results support ‘MyPlate’ guidance by the Department of Agriculture corn healthy diet. MyPlate is a newer version of the food pyramid that emphasises fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein and grain. She adds that parents should serve children a lot of vegetables, especially ones that they like.

Food paired with vegetables determine how much children eat

The researchers believe that the foods you pair with vegetables make a big difference. In the study, the researchers chose well-liked foods but not favourites, such as applesauce, milk, rice and fish sticks. How tasty the food is compared to the vegetables could determine how much vegetables your child eats. The vegetables should test better compared to what you pair them with.

Once a week, the researchers served the children these foods and four vegetables prepared differently. Serving them along with vegetables made them more likely to eat their vegetables. Adding salt and butter to the vegetables did not make them more attractive. 

Although salt and butter did not make a difference, researchers said that the ingredients could still be used to introduce them to new vegetables.

Understanding that most kids will still not like vegetables, the researchers at Penn State are trying to find substitutes for the food group. This could reduce waste and ensure children receive a healthy diet.