More than half of the children and adults in Spain do not eat vegetables every day, but a simple strategy could put an end to the problem.

Broccoli and spinach.

On many occasions, kids -and not so children- they usually put Difficulty consuming the vegetable portion of the plate of lunch or dinner. This can mean that they are deprived of essential nutrients for their growth, and worse still, that they never develop a taste for vegetables. According to a recent study, more than half of adults and more than 60% of children and young people in Spain do not eat vegetables on a daily basis.

And it is that changing habits in adulthood is quite complicated, but in the case of children it may be simpler than expected. At least that is what the new work published in the magazine suggests Appetite, whose conclusion is so simple that it could well star in one of the videos of the famous Italian influencer Khaby Lame: put more vegetables on the plate. No more.

Although the method may sound laughable, it is effective: putting larger portions of vegetables would make the children eat up to 68% more up to date. To reach this conclusion, the researchers conducted a clinical trial with 67 children ages 3 to 5 over a 4-week period. They used broccoli and corn as test vegetables, and just they doubled the amount served, from 60 to 120 grams per serving. And they observed the eating behavior of the children.

As nutritional scientist Hanim Diktas, lead author of the study, comments from the Pennsylvania State University, the children ate up to a third of a portion of vegetables more than half. Or what is the same, the equivalent of 12% of the recommended daily intake in young children. Diktas suggests that this strategy could also be useful in adults, and in fact similar effects have been seen in them, but it would not be that simple.

Aspects like the type of vegetables, the foods next to which they are served said vegetables, and whether or not to increase the size of the accompanying foods too mind to, and a lot. In fact, in this study the serving sizes of the rest of the foods were unchanged.

The researchers tried to carry out some modifications, such as adding butter and salt in some of the tests. However, there were no significant differences in the amount of vegetables the children ate, regardless of serving size. Modifying the amount of vegetables was the best strategy.

In this case, used veggies would be quite popular on their own for kids: 76% of the participants rated the vegetables as “good” or even “delicious” without the need to add butter and salt. Other foods used, along with vegetables, were fish sticks, rice, applesauce and milk, along with the aforementioned broccoli and corn.

The same researchers indicate that foods were chosen that were liked by the children, but not their favorites– If vegetables were offered alongside foods like chicken nuggets, the result would have been different.

These choices in themselves would be a limitation to the clinical trial, and a potential bias.Food combinations alter food palatability, and researchers knew it. They ensured that the vegetables used tasted good compared to other foods, and by combining them with them. In fact, they indicate, having chosen other vegetables could have led to different results, and even worse.

For this same reason Researchers want to continue to test different serving sizes and other combinations food. Also, it is not known at what point portion size would cease to be important; In other words, when the “trick” of enlarging the portion will cause more leftover vegetables to remain, and no more.

As a final conclusion, the authors of the work emphasize the importance of serving vegetables that the little ones like, and that can “compete” with the rest of the foods on the plate: forcing children to eat vegetables they don’t like won’t do any good. And that is a problem in western countries, especially the United States, where most children do not consume enough daily vegetables.