Plant a garden to grow your kids' desire for vegetables and fruit

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Healthy Food and Children

If you are looking for a way to encourage your children eat their fruits and vegetables, search no further than your backyard, suggests new Saint Louis University research.

Preschool children in rural areas eat more fruits and vegetables when the produce is homegrown.

"It was a simple, clear finding," said Debra Haire-Joshu, Ph.D., director of Saint Louis University's Obesity Prevention Center and a study author. "Whether a food is homegrown makes a difference. Garden produce creates what we call a 'positive food environment.'"

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Researchers interviewed about 1,600 parents of preschool-aged children who live in rural southeast Missouri. They found that preschool children who were almost always served homegrown fruits and vegetables were more than twice as likely to eat five servings a day than those who rarely or never ate homegrown produce.

The American Dietetic Association recommends between five and 13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

In addition, children who grow up eating fresh-from-the-garden produce also prefer the taste of fruits and vegetables to other foods, the parents told researchers.

The study, in the April issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, found the garden-fed children were more likely to see their parents eating fruits and vegetables.

A greater variety of fruits and vegetables

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