Almost 50% of families with children under the age of 15 find that their children’s eating habits are a key barrier against their household consuming more vegetables, a vegetable industry report has revealed. The findings, published in the latest Veginsights industry newsletter from AUSVEG, found that children’s likes and dislikes play an important role in household purchasing decisions and that parents need to continue to encourage their children to eat more vegetables.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution to address this problem as each family across Australia is different, however, there are several key factors that affect families buying vegetables,” said AUSVEG spokesperson, Mr William Churchill.
“A key issue preventing consumption of vegetables is that children are resistant to consuming new foods, and therefore they need to develop taste for the food by trying it in small amounts, up to nine times,” he said.
AUSVEG is the national peak industry body, representing the interests of over 9,000 vegetable and potato growers around Australia.
A recent study conducted by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation found that exposing children repeatedly to small amounts of specific vegetables will eventually result in the child liking the vegetable.
“Parents need to realise getting their children to eat vegetables takes time, like when you first start to ride a bike, it takes time to get used to the process. Parents need to remember this and encourage their children to eat vegetables, provide positive feedback and hopefully, vegies will become a regular inclusion at meal times,” Mr Churchill said.
The findings indicate that there are a number of different influences affecting vegetable consumption within families, with particular regard to children.
“Parents and friends play a key role in regards to their children’s attitude towards vegetables,” Mr Churchill said.
“Research shows that by involving children in growing, preparing and cooking vegetables, they will also be encouraged to eat them. Almost 40% of young families interviewed stated that their children were encouraging them to purchase more vegetables as a result of the strategies.
“Don’t force vegetables down their throat. Get the children involved and you’ll be surprised how quickly they grow to accept vegetables in their diet,” Mr Churchill said.