Being deceptive to children about eating healthily 'does not work'

4 August 2011

Deceptive means should not be used by parents to increase their child's intake of fruit and vegetables, a senior lecturer in nutrition, physical activity and public health at the University of Bristol has argued.

In comments aimed at preventing the rise in heart problems and those needing weight loss surgery, Sue Baic at the Department of Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences argued that introducing children to fruit and vegetables early is "really important" in helping them develop a sophisticated palate as it becomes more difficult as they get older.

However, she cautioned that deceptively hiding vegetables in food does not tend to foster an improved attitude to healthy foods.

Ms Baic stated: "By pureeing vegetables and adding them to food, children don't learn to enjoy them themselves.

"You have to do whatever works," Ms Baic added, suggesting that parents need to get their children to sample new vegetables at mealtimes, but in a more obvious and encouraging way.

Her comments come following research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which found that pureeing vegetables and adding them to the dinners of preschool children meant they ate nearly 50 per cent more vegetables than they would normally, resulting in 11 per cent fewer calories being consumed over the course of the day.

Posted by Edward Bartel

1 Birch, Leann L. et al., " Hiding vegetables to reduce energy density: an effective strategy to increase children's vegetable intake and reduce energy intake". American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Monday July 25th 2011.

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