Worried about your kids not eating enough veggies through the day? Well, then show them Popeye cartoon, organise tasting parties and involve them while you cook food for the family.
A new study has found that Popeye cartoons, tasting parties and junior cooking classes could encourage kindergarten kids to increase their vegetable intake.
Researchers at Mahidol University in Bangkok found the type and amount of vegetables children ate improved after they took part in a program using multimedia and role models to promote healthy food.
Twenty-six kindergarten children aged four to five participated in the eight week study.
The researchers recorded the kinds and amounts of fruit and vegetables eaten by the children before and after the program.
"We got the children planting vegetable seeds, taking part in fruit and vegetable tasting parties, cooking vegetable soup, and watching Popeye cartoons. We also sent letters to parents with tips on encouraging their kids to eat fruit and vegetables, and teachers sat with children at lunch to role model healthy eating,” said lead researcher Professor Chutima Sirikulchayanonta.
The researchers found vegetable intake doubled and the types of vegetables the children consumed increased from two to four.
Parents also reported their children talked about vegetables more often and were proud they had eaten them in their school lunch.
She said there was no significant change in the kinds of fruit eaten by the children, but this was probably because they were already eating more fruit than vegetables at the start of the study.
Sirikulchayanonta said that focusing on healthy food choices at an early age can have a major impact on the future health of adults.
The research also highlights that sitting next to children and eating the same foods as them makes children feel special.
''Tasting'' parties are an enjoyable way for children to compare tastes of fruit and vegetables.
Involving children in food preparation activities, like measuring, pouring and stirring helps them learn the names and colours of foods, and develops their hand-eye coordination.
The study has been published in the journal Nutrition n Dietetics.