How to Get Kids to Eat Veggies: Study Offers New Solution

New research suggests getting kids to eat veggies isn't impossible if parents try teaching kids about nutrition first.

| July 16, 2013

  • New research suggests preschoolers develop healthier eating habits if they understand how certain foods help their bodies function.
    Photo by Fotolia/Monkey Business

For many parents, figuring out how to get kids to eat vegetables can become a truly daunting task. A recent study from Stanford University offers a new solution to moms and dads struggling with picky eaters: try teaching kids about nutrition first.

The research, published last month in Psychological Science, found kids eat vegetables when they know how a healthy, varied diet positively impacts their bodies. 

Despite their young age, preschoolers are capable of comprehending a conceptual approach to nutrition, said Sarah Gripshover and Ellen Markman, the Stanford psychologists behind the study. 

“Children have natural curiosity— they want to understand why and how things work,” they explain. “Of course we need to simplify materials for young children, but oversimplification robs children of the opportunity to learn and advance their thinking.”

Gripshover and Markman developed five storybooks that illustrated key concepts about nutrition, including dietary variety, the digestive system, food groups and how nutrients keep the body strong and healthy.

For about three months, a different book was read each week during snack time to one classroom of preschoolers, while the other classroom had snack time without the books. Later, the students were asked questions about nutrition.

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