By Kenda Hettinger a recent ASU Nutrition student
Children between the ages of 4-6 have heightened neophobia. Neophobia is the fear of trying something new. This makes it difficult keeping a good variety of vegetables in their diet. I know the struggle.
A new study was published in the Journal of nutrition education and behavior in September 2019, explored what would happen if you offered multiple vegetable choices versus one vegetable sources plus positive reinforcement. There were 3 different groups of parents and their children. One group did not change their dietary choices at all, one group offered a single vegetable before dinner 3 times a week, and the third group offered a variety of three vegetables 3 times a week. The group that offered the various vegetables, offered one vegetable after another before dinner.
The children were assessed before the study began and then again after 5 weeks. A 3 month follow up was also completed at home by the parents. Vegetable intake was calculated using 3 different measures, how much vegetable was consumed over a mealtime, a weighed 3-day food diary, and usual vegetable servings reported by the parents. The children were also assessed on their food acceptance and neophobia.
An increased food acceptance and decreased food neophobia were observed across both the single food group and the multiple food groups. The significant change though, is shown in the actual intakes of food over the weighed 3-day food diary. The average vegetable intake of all groups before the study began was 44 grams per day. Three months after the study ended, the group that was offered the variety of vegetable’s average intake was 74 grams per day. That is a significant change! The other 2 groups showed no change after 3 months.
In conclusion, I believe this is great information for all parents to hold on to and implement if they are having trouble getting vegetables into their child’s diets. The only problem that I see with this study is that the study group was very small. It would be great if this was repeated with a larger group of kids.
Poelman, Astrid A M, Conor M Delahunty, Maeva Broch, and Cees De Graaf. “Multiple vs Single Target Vegetable Exposure to Increase Young Children’s Vegetable Intake.” Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 51.8 (2019): 985-92. Web.