One of the hardest things that parents face when raising their children is how to teach the little ones to eat vegetables. For sure, a number of parents already tried reprimanding or bribing their children but to no avail. With this problem in hand, schools, nutritionists, and behavioral scientists have teamed up to discover effective methods of making children eat vegetables.
As a result, they found out that children may be more tempted to eat vegetables when these foods are given other positions on the food line and when vegetable dishes have cool sounding names.
These efforts in making children eat more vegetables have been prompted by the increasing number of childhood-obesity rates, with the number increasing to twice the original since the 1970s. Likewise, there have been a number of regulations implemented in schools, with aims of helping children to make healthier choices. However, these previous efforts resulted in very minimal positive outcomes.
The following are some of the considered effective interventions that can aid in improving children’s health in schools:
DISPLAYING THE VEGETABLES
Some schools opened all-you-can-eat salad bards which can be found at the front of cafeterias. Thus, as soon as the children fall in line, they can different fruits and vegetables, which are all locally produced in their towns. This change resulted in more children buying school lunches.
The success of this intervention lies in providing the children with selection. Students become tempted to eat some vegetables or fruits that they have tried before and are apt to encourage others to do the same. This success is also supported by a scientific study, which showed that placing salad bars in school cafeterias increases vegetable consumption of students.
Another effective strategy is by giving children vegetables when they are at their hungriest. As a matter of fact, one study showed that more children ate carrots when they are given a cup of the vegetable before lunch time.
MAKING IMPROVEMENTS IN MARKETING
It turns out that children are more apt to eat sliced fresh fruits out of colorful bowls. Prior to this change, children tended to throw out fruits placed in gray, dull-looking containers.
Aside from attractive food containers, cool names and signage also prove to be effective in engaging elementary student to eat vegetables. One study also showed that children will more likely choose an apple with an icon sticker that those without. Thus, branding can also be used in promoting healthy eating. Some experts also suggest that bringing in food truck to introduce new dish may entice more children to eat more fruit and vegetable-based meals.
In short, catching students’ attention plays a key role in introducing fruits and vegetables to them. Schools can show students how meals can be prepared with fruits and vegetables so that they can try it out themselves at home.
MONITOR WHAT THEY EAT
Some educational institutions collaborated to determine which foods end up in students’ stomach and in the trash. Based on the data obtained, the schools identified the most popular items and those that did not appeal to the students. Likewise, school administrators sent parents a customized report card each week to show the foods eaten by their children in school, complete with calorie contents and vegetable servings. This way, parents gain insights into the food that they need to serve to their children to compensate for any deficiency in nutrients after eating in school.
Unfortunately, no increase was noted with regard to vegetable consumption of the students. Still, the implemented system allowed parents and teachers to look closely at how children have been eating and the type of food that they eat in school.
COOKING THE FOOD PROPERLY
Though hiring professional chefs may sound too much, it can actually help more school children. As a matter of fact, one study showed that long-term partnerships between chefs and schools aid in increasing produce selection and consumption.
Meanwhile, in a 2016 School Nutrition Association Survey, 18% of responding schools indicated their partnerships with chefs. This partnership is aimed at introducing new dishes and improving some favorites meals.
INTRODUCE VEGETABLES IN THE CLASSROOM
Children’s first encounter with vegetables serves as important indicator regarding whether they continually eat in the future. Some schools opt to bring their students to farms to show them where various fruits and vegetables come from.
Meanwhile, Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City implements a Food Scientist program that allow participants to focus on their senses when they encounter new fruits and vegetables.
Other schools teach students on how to shop and read labels and to cook using fresh produce. As a result, they teach their student culinary skills and certain healthy habits that they can apply throughout their lives.