Giving kids plates with segments and pictures caused them to eat more vegetables

August 8, 2018 by Bob Yirka, Medical Xpress report
my plate
Credit: choosemyplate.gov

A pair of researchers at the University of Colorado has found that preschool kids ate more vegetables when presented with segmented plates with pictures of fruits and vegetables on them. In their paper published in JAMA Pediatrics, Emily Melnick and Meng Li describe their study, which involved observing preschool children having lunch and changing the type of plates that were involved.

It is a well-known fact that people of all ages in the United States do not eat enough fruits and vegetables—this is unfortunate, because prior research has shown that regular amounts of both are important for a healthy body. Prior research has also shown that the foods that eat as they are growing up can have an impact on the food choices they make as adults. For these reasons, scientists have been searching for ways to get children to eat more fruits and vegetables. In this new effort, the researchers expanded on the findings of another team that found that segmenting the plates that teenagers used for their meals caused an increase in consumption. Their goal was to find out if the same might be true for preschool-age children.

The experiments by the researchers consisted of measuring the amounts of fruits and vegetables eaten by 235 children at a local preschool. At the school, children were fed family-style, which means prepared food was put into large containers and set on a table where the children were able to help themselves. In the first go-round, plain white plates were used by the children. Then, four weeks later, the children were given segmented plates with pictures of fruit and vegetables in designated compartments.

In comparing the amounts of fruits and vegetables used, the researchers found that the children dished themselves on average 13.82 grams more vegetables when using the segmented plates compared to the plain white ones. They also ate on average 7.54 grams more vegetables when using the segmented plates. They report also that the children ate slightly more as well, but the difference was not considered to be statistically significant.

The researchers acknowledge that their study was limited in scope and involved variables that were difficult to measure, such as waste, but suggest their findings indicate that plate design could play a role in coaxing kids to eat more vegetables.

Explore further: Psychologists and experts in human computer interaction develop new app to support fussy eating in children

More information: Emily M. Melnick et al. Association of Plate Design With Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables Among Preschool Children, JAMA Pediatrics (2018). DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.1915

Abstract
Children in the United States do not consume enough fruits and vegetables.1 One potential approach to change health behaviors such as fruit and vegetable consumption is to change the decision environment to make certain behavior more likely without altering incentives.2,3 For example, placing pictures of fruits and vegetables on lunch trays is associated with an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption among school-aged children.4 This potentially powerful intervention, however, has not been explored among children in early childhood (3-8 years of age), and dietary behavior during this period can be associated with life-long dietary practices.5 This study addresses this gap and tests the association between use of plates with fruit and vegetable pictures and consumption of fruits and vegetables among preschool children between 3 and 5 years of age.

Related Stories

Psychologists and experts in human computer interaction develop new app to support fussy eating in children

August 3, 2018
A team of researchers have a developed a novel app for kids aimed at getting them to eat more healthily and try more vegetables.

High fruit and vegetable consumption may reduce risk of breast cancer, especially aggressive tumors

July 19, 2018
Women who eat a high amount of fruits and vegetables each day may have a lower risk of breast cancer, especially of aggressive tumors, than those who eat fewer fruits and vegetables, according to a new study led by researchers ...

Sensory-based food education encourages children to eat vegetables, berries and fruit

May 30, 2018
Sensory-based food education given to 3–5 year-old children in the kindergarten increases their willingness to choose vegetables, berries and fruit, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. Sensory-based ...

Holding recess before lunch increases fruit and veggie consumption and decreases waste

January 13, 2015
Students participating in the National School Lunch Program are required to select a fruit and a vegetable side. This regulation is intended to get students to eat more fruits and vegetables; however, just because an apple ...

Lack of vegetable choices in infant and toddler food is widespread

April 10, 2018
Eat your vegetables is a well-worn message that weary parents have been giving reluctant children at the dinner table for generations.

Recommended for you

Genetic changes associated with physical activity reported

December 10, 2018
Time spent sitting, sleeping and moving is determined in part by our genes, University of Oxford researchers have shown. In one of the most detailed projects of its kind, the scientists studied the activity of 91,105 UK Biobank ...

Siblings of children with autism or ADHD are at elevated risk for both disorders

December 10, 2018
Later-born siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at elevated risk for both disorders, a new study led by Meghan Miller, assistant professor in the ...

Obesity, risk of cognitive dysfunction? Consider high-intensity interval exercise

December 10, 2018
It's fast-paced, takes less time to do, and burns a lot of calories. High-intensity interval exercise is widely recognized as the most time-efficient and effective way to exercise. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers ...

Licence to Swill: James Bond's drinking over six decades

December 10, 2018
He may be licensed to kill but fictional British secret service agent James Bond has a severe alcohol use disorder, according to an analysis of his drinking behaviour published in the Medical Journal of Australia's Christmas ...

How to survive on 'Game of Thrones': Switch allegiances

December 9, 2018
Characters in the Game of Thrones TV series are more likely to die if they do not switch allegiance, and are male, according to an article published in the open access journal Injury Epidemiology.

Expert calls for strong, sustainable action to make world roadways safer

December 7, 2018
According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) report on road safety, more than 1.3 million people die on the world's roadways each year—and millions more are injured or disabled. Yet despite the huge cost to families ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

eigenmetric
not rated yet Aug 08, 2018
Part of the challenge as well is cooking the vegetables so that they actually taste good. Growing up it was primarily frozen bagged vegetables steamed which are absolutely tasteless garbage. Roasting (even with simple olive oil/salt/pepper to season) is much better.

Not that it would necessarily cure a child's "verdiphobia," but roasting > steaming/boiling any day.
deksman2
not rated yet Aug 12, 2018
Protein box?
Vegetables, fruits and grains ALL contain protein... higher quality protein to top it off.
Sheesh.

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.