Children can learn to eat new vegetables if they are introduced regularly before the age of two, suggests a new study. Even fussy little eaters can be encouraged to eat more greens if they are offered them five to 10 times, University of Leeds study found.
Olga Yazhgunovich: Exposing babies to a new vegetable early in life encourages them to eat more of it compared to offering new vegetables to older children, Researchers from the University of Leeds say. Mothers and fathers shouldn't let facial expressions discourage them either when children are tasting foods for the first time, according to researcher Marion Hetherington. "You have to get beyond those facial expressions of what you think might be disgust, but are actually just shock," Hetherington said. "...Be patient and be persistent, but don't give up after three tries." The research team gave artichoke puree to 332 children aged between four and 38 months from the UK, France and Denmark. Globe artichoke was chosen as the vegetable in the study because parents said it was one of the vegetables they were least likely to cook. One in five cleared their plates while 40% learned to like artichoke, BBC reports.Twenty-one per cent consumed more than three-quarters of their serving each time and were labelled "plate-clearers". "Non-eaters" made up 16% of the children because they ate less than 10g even when it was offered for a fifth time, while the rest did not conform to any one group. The study also dispelled the popular myth that vegetable tastes need to be masked in order for children to eat them. The puree was either served straight, or sweetened with added sugar, or vegetable oil was mixed into the puree to add energy. The researchers found there was little difference in the amount eaten over time between those who were fed the basic puree and those who had the sweetened one, suggesting that making vegetables sweeter does not encourage children to eat more. Overall, they did find that younger children ate more artichoke than older children in the study. Prof Marion Hetherington, study author from the Institute of Psychological Sciences at Leeds, said this was because children become picky and wary at a certain age. "If they are under two they will eat new vegetables because they tend to be willing and open to new experiences.After 24 months, children become reluctant to try new things and start to reject foods - even those they previously liked." Prof Hetherington said her research, which is published in the journal PLOS ONE and funded by the EU, offered some valuable guidance to parents who want to encourage healthy diets in their children. "If you want to encourage your children to eat vegetables, make sure you start early and often. Source: The Voice of Russia