Want your child to eat fruits and veggies?

Want your child to eat fruits and veggies?

Both parents must set an example

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

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IN terms of nutrition, parents are the ultimate role models for their children, and their influence has even more impact when they both set an example, a recent Finnish study suggests.

If you would like your child to eat more fruits and vegetables, it is up to you to set an example. And it's even better if both parents get involved, suggests a study by the University of Eastern Finland published in Food Quality and Preferences.

Previous research studies have confirmed that parents' influence on their children's eating habits begin as early as the first year after birth. Children learn what, when, and how much to eat, largely by observing the eating behaviours of others.

To determine the extent to which parents' eating habits could influence their children's, the authors of this new study surveyed 114 children between the ages of three and five and 100 parents to determine what foods they consumed at home.

Overall, the results suggest a low consumption of fruits and vegetables among children aged three to five and their parents. Cooked vegetables and berries were the foods least consumed by participants, the study notes.

Parental influence is particularly important at dinner time.

The researchers found that, to some extent, the pattern of consumption of a specific food could vary between parents: for example, mothers were more likely to eat raw and cooked vegetables, as well as fruits and berries. Fathers, on the other hand, reported higher consumption of cooked vegetables.

“This shows that teaching children to eat their greens is not something mothers should be doing alone. A positive example set by both parents is important, as is their encouragement of the child,” points out nutritionist and researcher Kaisa Kähkönenn, who was also the lead author of the study.

Parents' responses also suggest that dinner is the most important meal at home when it comes to teaching children to eat vegetables and fruits.

According to the World Health Organization, which recommends consuming more than 400 grammes of fruits and vegetables per day, low fruit and vegetable consumption is among the top ten risk factors for mortality worldwide.

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