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Sunday, July 17, 2016

How can you get kids to eat more vegetables and fruit?

How can you get your kids to eat more vegetables and fruit?   It is easy to get kids to eat junk food but when it comes to vegetables, it can be quite a struggle. So what can a parent or child care provider do?  Apparently, the same marketing techniques fast food and junk food advertiser’s use, can be used to get kids to eat more vegetables and more fruit.   A recent study in Pediatrics, Marketing Vegetables in Elementary School Cafeterias to Increase Uptake, looked at 10 elementary schools and tried different approaches to get kids to eat more veggies.

  1. A banner with vegetable characters displayed on the salad bar
  2. TV spots of vegetable characters talking about health education
  3. Both the vegetable characters displayed on the salad bar and the TV spots of vegetable characters
The researchers studied the number of elementary students taking vegetables from the salad bar over a 6 week period.  So what worked the best?  The banner pictures of vegetable characters increased vegetable consumption a lot, 90.5% more kids chose veggies from the salad bar when they saw pictures of vegetable characters.  But worked really well was both the vegetable characters and the TV spots of veggie characters with 239.2% more kids choosing the salad bar. 

Putting up banners is one thing schools and child care centers can do.  What are other easy ways for parents, school and child care centers to get kids to eat more fruit and veggies? Another study by Cornell University (Branding Veggies for Kids), put a sticker of a kid’s familiar character such as Elmo, on an apple or other fruit.  Day One of the study: at the end of the lunch line, kids could choose a cookie or piece of fruit with no sticker.  Then the researchers put stickers on the cookie or fruit.  They found that twice as many kids would chose the apple if it had a familiar sticker on it, like Elmo. 

Going out for Fast Food?  Is there a fun way to get your child to make healthier choices at Fast Food places?  Cornell also studied how using super heroes as role models could get kids to make healthier Fast Food choices in What would Batman eat?   Parents can ask kids who their favorite super-hero is.  For example, if it’s Batman, the parent can say Batman would choose apple slices not French Fries with his Happy Meal as Batman wants to be healthy.   Try it, it may work with your kid to help them make healthier choices when eating at Fast Food places.  If you are worried about a child eating a paper sticker on a piece of fruit, you can buy Edible Stickers to encourage kids to eat more fruits and veggies. 

Picture of Batman eating healthy food
Batman making healthy food choices.

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