New study reveals more inspiring reasons to serve veggies at dinner

November 14, 2012

Parents may have some new motivations to serve their kids vegetables. A new study, funded by Pinnacle Foods' Birds Eye brand and published in Public Health Nutrition, found that adding vegetables to the plate led to more positive evaluations of both the main entrée and the cook. By simply serving vegetables with dinner, participants believed the main course would taste better and thought the server was more thoughtful and attentive.

"Most know that are healthy, yet vegetables are served at only 23% of American dinners," said lead author Brian Wansink, PhD, the John Dyson Professor of Marketing and at Cornell University. "That means we need to find some new motivations to encourage parents to make vegetables a bigger part of the meal. If parents knew that adding vegetables to the plate could make what they prepare for dinner seem more appealing, or could increase their own "heroic" appeal, then maybe they'd be more inspired to serve vegetables."

In the four-part study, Cornell researchers interviewed 500 mothers with at least two children under the age of 18 living at home. first assessed the of women who either prepared or did not prepare vegetables with a family meal. They then rated four different meals that either included or did not include a vegetable in terms of the taste of the entrée and of the whole meal. were also asked to describe the meal preparer who had served vegetables or a preparer who had not served vegetables with a meal, and then identify their favorite vegetables and the preferred preparation.

The results suggest that vegetables can play a powerful role in increasing the overall enjoyment of the meal. Across all four meals, the addition of vegetables helped increase the positive response in multiple ways – making the meal seem more "complete," "loving," "tasty," and prepared with more effort or thought. Questions regarding children's favorite vegetable revealed a wide variety of preferences but clearly indicated that almost all children had at least one vegetable they considered a favorite. Interestingly, the favored vegetable changed with the age of the child.

"These findings reinforce the concept that vegetables make the meal," Wansink said. "Simply talking about how vegetables are good for you may not be enough," he said. "Thinking about vegetables as an enhancement of the main course or the meal may be a more effective strategy." Wansink also recommends increasing the variety of vegetables offered to children and changing what vegetables are served as children get older, which will help to respond to their changing tastes as they mature.

"If a parent believes that adding a vegetable gives their family a better perception of the cook and what's cooked, it may encourage them to serve vegetables more often," Wansink said. "Considering that most kids are not eating adequate amounts of vegetables, we need to explore new approaches to increase consumption."

Going straight to kids for inspiration is another new approach for getting kids to eat and enjoy their vegetables. In fact, in partnership with Nickelodeon, Birds Eye uncovered more than sixteen thousand vegetable recipe concepts as part of the "iCarly iCook with Birds Eye" initiative. Birds Eye then took cues from these concepts to create a special collection of kid-friendly recipes starring Birds Eye Steamfresh® products, which are perfect for kids because no knives or hot stoves are required. Kids can help their mom simply by pressing the buttons on the microwave. Visit www.birdseye.com/kids for more kid-friendly recipes, serving ideas, tips and tools.

Explore further: New studies reveal hidden insights to help inspire vegetable love

More information: Wansink B, Shimizu M, Brumberg A. How vegetables make the meal: Their hedonic and heroic impact on perceptions of the meal and the preparer. Public Health Nutrition. 2012.

Related Stories

New studies reveal hidden insights to help inspire vegetable love

July 16, 2012
Two new studies presented today at the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior's (SNEB) annual conference may make it easier for moms to get their kids to eat – and enjoy – vegetables. Both studies were conducted ...

Hiding vegetables in kids' foods can increase vegetable intake

July 25, 2011
Preschool children consumed nearly twice as many vegetables and 11 percent fewer calories over the course of a day when researchers Penn State added pureed vegetables to the children's favorite foods.

Babies weaned on home-cooked fruit, veg more likely to eat '5 a day' as children

July 22, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Babies weaned on home-cooked fruit and vegetables are more likely to eat fruit and vegetables as children, according to recent research.

Recommended for you

Across Asia, liver cancer is linked to herbal remedies: study

October 18, 2017
Researchers have uncovered widespread evidence of a link between traditional Chinese herbal remedies and liver cancer across Asia, a study said Wednesday.

Eating better throughout adult years improves physical fitness in old age, suggests study

October 18, 2017
People who have a healthier diet throughout their adult lives are more likely to be stronger and fitter in older age than those who don't, according to a new study led by the University of Southampton.

Global calcium consumption appears low, especially in Asia

October 18, 2017
Daily calcium intake among adults appears to vary quite widely around the world in distinct regional patterns, according to a new systematic review of research data ahead of World Osteoporosis Day on Friday, Oct. 20.

New study: Nearly half of US medical care comes from emergency rooms

October 17, 2017
Nearly half of all US medical care is delivered by emergency departments, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM). And in recent years, the percentage of care delivered ...

Experts devise plan to slash unnecessary medical testing

October 17, 2017
Researchers at top hospitals in the U.S. and Canada have developed an ambitious plan to eliminate unnecessary medical testing, with the goal of reducing medical bills while improving patient outcomes, safety and satisfaction.

No evidence that widely marketed technique to treat leaky bladder/prolapse works

October 16, 2017
There is no scientific evidence that a workout widely marketed to manage the symptoms of a leaky bladder and/or womb prolapse actually works, conclude experts in an editorial published online in the British Journal of Sports ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.