A new study carried by the researchers at University of Leeds Children has found that eating problems in children, like eating new vegetables, can be easily avoided if they are offered to them regularly before the age of two.
According to the study researchers, fussy eaters can also be encouraged to eat more veggies if they are offered them five to 10 times.
For the study, the research team involved 332 children from the UK, France and Denmark who were in the age group four and 38 months.
They were given artichoke puree. One in five cleared their plates while 40 percent of the participants learned to like artichoke.
The researchers noticed that 24 months later the children became reluctant to try new things and start to reject foods.
With the help of study findings, the researchers were also able to trash a popular myth that vegetable tastes need to be masked in order for children to eat them.
Each child was given 5-10 servings of at least 100g of artichoke puree. The puree given to children was either served straight or sweetened with added sugar or vegetable oil was mixed into the puree to add energy.
There was slight difference in the amount eaten over time between children who were fed the straight puree and those who had the sweetened one. The trend suggested that making vegetables sweeter does not encourage children to eat more. Other interesting finding the researchers found that younger children ate more artichoke than older children in the study.
Study author Prof Marion Hetherington from the Institute of Psychological Sciences at Leeds said, “The found trend in children is all because they become picky and wary at a certain age.
“If they are under two they will eat new vegetables because they tend to be willing and open to new experiences. After 24 months, children become reluctant to try new things and start to reject foods – even those they previously liked,” Hetherington said.
Findings of the study
- 40 percent of participants were “learners” as they ate more artichoke over time.
- 21 percent of children consumed more than three-quarters of their serving each time and were labelled “plate-clearers”.
- 16 percent were “Non-eaters” as they ate less than 10g even when it was offered for a fifth time.
- Rest of the children belonged to no group.
The study, funded by the EU, was published in the journal PLOS ONE.