Kids Encourage Friends and Family to Eat More Veggies

Jenn Hoskins
12th March, 2024

Kids Encourage Friends and Family to Eat More Veggies

Key Findings

  • Australian kids suggest making veggies tastier to boost their intake
  • Family cooking activities can help children eat more vegetables
  • Kids see themselves as influencers for healthier eating among peers and family
Understanding how to increase vegetable intake among children is a pressing issue, given that many do not consume the recommended amounts. This gap in nutrition can have long-term health implications. A recent study by researchers at Deakin University, known as the Kids initiative inspires Dietary Success in Adults and Youth (KiiDSAY) project, sought to address this problem by engaging directly with children to gather their insights on how to encourage their peers and families to eat more vegetables[1]. The KiiDSAY project involved 26 school-aged children who had previously participated in a school-based nutrition education program. The children, aged 10-12 years, were from four primary schools in New South Wales, Australia. Researchers conducted seven focus group interviews through Zoom, which were audio-recorded and later transcribed for analysis. The methodology was qualitative, employing thematic analysis to decipher the children's suggestions and perspectives. The results of the study revealed four major themes: taste, family environment, healthy eating, and children as change makers. Each theme encompassed various subthemes, and these were aligned with theoretical frameworks that explain health behaviors. For instance, children expressed that taste was a significant factor in vegetable consumption, suggesting that recipes should be designed to make vegetables more palatable, either by hiding their flavor or by enhancing it with other ingredients. The family environment theme highlighted the role of parents and siblings in influencing children's eating habits. Kids suggested that cooking activities at home and school, which involve family members, could be a fun way to increase vegetable intake. The theme of healthy eating reflected children's awareness of the importance of vegetables in their diet, and they recommended starting with fruit-based recipes and gradually incorporating more vegetables. Children also saw themselves as change makers, capable of influencing their peers and family members to make healthier food choices. This aligns with earlier research[2] that suggested early childhood eating behaviors have a long-term impact on diet and weight status, reinforcing the importance of engaging children in nutrition education early on. The study's conclusions are particularly relevant when considering the findings of previous interventions aimed at improving children's diets. For example, a multicomponent intervention in Zagreb showed that interactive workshops, cross-curricular activities, and parent education could significantly increase fruit and vegetable intake among primary school children[3]. Additionally, the notion of incorporating vegetables into more meals, such as breakfast, has been proposed as a pragmatic approach to increase daily vegetable intake[4]. The KiiDSAY project's findings support the idea that children are valuable contributors to discussions about health interventions. Their unique perspectives can lead to more effective strategies that resonate with their age group. By including children's voices, future interventions can be tailored to be more appealing and thus, more successful. This study contributes to a growing body of evidence that suggests children are not just passive recipients of health interventions but can be active participants in designing them. The insights from the KiiDSAY project can inform future research and practical applications in nutrition education, potentially leading to increased vegetable consumption among children, better health outcomes, and the establishment of lifelong healthy eating habits.



Main Study

1) Primary-school-aged children inspire their peers and families to eat more vegetables in the KiiDSAY project: a qualitative descriptive study.

Published 9th March, 2024

Related Studies

2) Eating behaviors, dietary patterns and weight status in emerging adulthood and longitudinal associations with eating behaviors in early childhood.

3) Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Intake of Primary School Children in a Quasi-Randomized Trial: Evaluation of the Three-Year School-Based Multicomponent Intervention.

4) Would offering vegetables to children for breakfast increase their total daily vegetable intake?

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