Study of the Day: How to Make Kids Eat the Vegetables They Hate

More

Most children are physiologically predisposed to dislike bitter vegetables. New research shows how to get them to eat veggies anyway.

main littleny shutterstock_78409630.jpg

PROBLEM: When it comes to food, children are pretty easy to please. Unlike health-conscious grown-ups who care about nutrition or foodies who factor in points for presentation, all most kids care about when they eat is flavor. Sweet is good; bitter is very, very bad. So how can parents, who've overcome the genetic predisposition against tart-tasting food that afflicts about 70 percent of us, compel kids to eat the healthful veggies they've been programmed to hate?

METHODOLOGY: For seven weeks, Temple University obesity researcher Jennifer Orlet Fisher served broccoli at snack time to 152 preschool-aged children and analyzed the effect of offering them various dips.

RESULTS: Adding 2.5 ounces of ranch dressing to a serving of vegetables helped bitter-sensitive children eat 80 percent more broccoli. Low-fat and regular versions of the dip were equally effective.

CONCLUSION: Low-fat dips can help children accept bitter food like broccoli or Brussels sprouts. Though ranch dressing was used in the experiment, Fisher notes in a statement that applesauce, hummus, or a yogurt-based dip can work as well.

SOURCE: The full study, "Offering 'Dip' Promotes Intake of a Moderately-Liked Raw Vegetable Among Preschoolers With Genetic Sensitivity to Bitterness," is published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Image: littleny/Shutterstock.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Hans Villarica writes for and produces The Atlantic's Health channel. His work has appeared in TIME, People Asia, and Fast Company.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In