I’m not really sure how to take this study. Certainly the health benefits of eating more vegetables in our children are extensive and a good thing. But the mechanism the authors used in this study…
Basically, pureed vegetables were mixed into the entrees of 3-5 yr old children. The end result was that the children’s vegetable intake quadrupled while the kids did not notice any difference in the foods. This also did not keep the children from eating the vegetables that were included as a side dish.
Ok…so where’s the problem? Certainly the short term benefits of increased vegetable intake are indisputable, And what parent wouldn’t like to sneak an extra serving or two of veggies into every meal?
But what happens when that child gets older? Does this behavior translate into lifelong increased fruit and vegetable intake? Likely not. It does not teach children to go out of their way to eat more fruits and vegetables, but rather tricks the child into having more veggies. This is not a behavioral change, although the body likely won’t know the difference.
It is also not going to affect the parent’s behaviors, which is where the true lifestyle habits of the children are created. Why not start with healthier entrees in the first place so we don’t need to dress them up with additional vegetables? I hear parents say all too often that their children are picky eaters. This is usually a perception problem.
As a parent, do you try to offer your child new foods knowing that they will like the food? Or, deep in the back of their minds do they really think there is no way the child will eat that broccoli?