Want your kids to eat more veggies? Serve water with every meal, suggests a new study.
The premise of the research, published online in the journal Appetite this week, is based on the fact that taste preferences are heavily influenced by repeated exposure to particular foods and drink pairings.
For instance, children have learned to associate sweet, high-calorie drinks like colas with salty, fatty foods like fries, researchers point out.
But after observing the dietary habits of young adults and pre-school children in two separate studies, one of the most promising outcomes was that preschoolers ate more raw vegetables like carrots and red peppers when they were given water, as opposed to a sweetened beverage.
Not surprisingly, the older participants aged 19 - 23 also favored the combination of soda with salty, calorie-dense foods.
Given the results of their study, researchers say that serving water with every meal instead of sweetened beverages could be a simple and effective dietary change that combats childhood obesity and reduces dehydration.
The latest study builds on previous research touting water as the ‘magic tonic' to weight management. At a meeting of the American Chemical Society in 2010, for instance, another team of researchers said that participants who drank two 8-oz (250 ml) glasses of water before meals reduced their caloric intake by 75 to 90 calories.