Dr. Randy Martin: Everyone knows that it is tough to get kids to eat vegetables. I met with Dr. Robert Whipple, a pediatrician at Piedmont Newnan Hospital, to learn about an interesting new study that looks at an innovative way parents can ensure their children are getting the nutrients they need from vegetables.
In a recent study from Pennsylvania State University, researchers added pureed vegetables into everyday foods and studied 39 children to learn whether these “hidden vegetables” encourage children to eat more healthfully.
“Researchers took zucchini bread, pasta with tomato sauce and chicken noodle casserole, and modified the recipes by adding pureed broccoli and cauliflower,” says Robert Whipple, M.D., a pediatrician at Piedmont Newnan Hospital. “They found that they were able to double the amount of vegetables kids consumed during meals and lower their caloric intake by 11 percent.”
Dr. Whipple notes that parents have been sneaking vegetables into meals, such as chicken potpie, for years, but “this study adds to the arsenal of tools parents have to serve their entire family healthy meals.”
More vegetables may help the fight against childhood obesity
“I think a contributing factor to the childhood obesity epidemic is the availability of higher calorie foods, the increase in portion size and the lower amount of vegetables that kids are eating,” he says. “Children ages two to five only get 22 percent of the vegetables they need in a single day, so this is a way to increase those servings.”
Get kids interested in veggies
Dr. Whipple says that having children help in the garden, allowing them to select vegetables from the grocery store produce aisle and having them help with age-appropriate cooking tasks are effective ways to encourage them to eat more nutritious foods.
To get kids to eat more vegetables, “make sure they are hungry at mealtime and that they aren’t filling up on liquids or snacks prior to the meal, make vegetables fun, and keep trying – just because they don’t like a vegetable today, doesn’t mean they won’t like it next week.”
Dr. Randy Martin: Dr. Whipple has given us some great information. Persistence counts and there are multiple ways you can encourage your kids to get the adequate amount of vegetables. Doing so will help them establish life-long healthy habits and will help prevent serious diseases that affect a large portion of Americans.