Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Healthy and Tasty: Focus Group Research on Vegetable Consumption among Children Aged 9 to 12

Focus groups were used to explore attitudes to vegetable consumption among children aged between 9 and 12. Group meetings were used to gather data concerning habitually consumed foods (both in the home and at school), preferred meals, most consumed vegetables, motives for vegetable consumption and non-consumption, the perceptions of vegetable-eating and non-vegetable-eating children, and children’s suggested vegetable-based products. Major vegetable consumption drivers and barriers were analysed from the children’s perspective. The focus group data showed that certain sensory factors (taste, appearance and texture) are powerful consumption drivers. The identity and the creativity of the person who prepares the meals as well as vegetable consumption habits in the home were also found to have a major impact on attitudes towards consuming vegetable among these children.

The most recent Global Burden of Disease analysis estimated that 4,9 million deaths per year were attributable to insufficient fruit intake and 1,8 million were attributable to insufficient vegetable intake. A low consumption of fruits and vegetables (FV) has been associated with increased risk of developing certain types of cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as increased risk of stroke, obesity and diabete. Currently, a minimum daily FV intake of 400 g is recommended and the promotion of FV in the diet has become a priority for several governments in recent years. Low FV intake among children increasingly has become a cause for concern in many countries, like the USA, where children do not consume the five daily servings recommended. In the UK, only 20% of children aged between 5 and 15 consume the recommended amount of FV on a daily basis, the intake of vegetables being particularly low, with an average of one serving per day. In Germany, 70% of children consume fewer than two servings of vegetables per day. There are lots of researches from US and Europe that allow to see the low intake of FV and their reasons but in other places like Uruguay, are limited. Fruit and vegetable consumption in Uruguayan households amounts to an average of 246 grams per capita per day in urban areas and is dependent on income level. In Montevideo, 28% of preschool children (between 3 and 5 years of age) do not consume vegetables (fresh and/or cooked) and 72% of them only do so once or twice a week.

their family environment, which is believed to influence consumption through a variety of mechanisms, including exposure to more FV, the availability of FV in the home and the FV consumption model provided by parents. Daily exposure to a vegetable provided by parents has been found to significantly improve a child’s liking for that vegetable, whereas exposure to a variety of vegetables, as opposed to just one, has been found much more effective at increasing the probability of the child’s consuming a new vegetable. Actions performed by parents at meal times have also been found to influence vegetable consumption. 

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