How to plate-up more fruits and veggies for kids

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From Brussels sprouts to broccoli and cauliflower to corn, vegetables are super nutritious. But as any parent knows, most kids don’t eat enough of them. Now researchers may have figured out a little trick to feeding those finicky eaters, and it’s all about the plate.

The study involved 235 kids at a preschool. For part of the study, researchers had the kids eat from plates with pictures of fruits and vegetables on them during lunchtime. They explained to the kids that these pictures represented sections just for fruits and veggies. During the other part of the study, the youngsters ate from their usual plain white plates. In both situations, the kids could serve themselves from bowls of fruits and vegetables. The researchers devised a before-and-after measurement system to figure out how much of these foods were taken and eaten.

Here’s what the researchers learned: Kids took and ate more veggies on days when they dished them up on the plates with pictures. They also chose and consumed more fruits when they used the special plates, though not significantly more; one possible explanation is that kids were already taking a lot more fruits than veggies to begin with—88.5 percent of available fruit versus 65.4 percent of veggies.

In a previous study, a similar approach encouraged older kids to consume more fruits and vegetables. Now the new study suggests such plates could also help younger kids learn a healthy, lifelong habit. However, the authors of this study didn’t say why the special plates with pictures might have prompted kids to up their veggie intake—for instance, if the kids found them fun.

The study was published in JAMA PediatricsRead more about the findings.

Do you have a picky eater?

Check out these tips for dealing with a finicky eater at home.

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