UGA Researchers Discover a Way to Get Your Kids to Eat Their Veggies

As a parent, it can be challenging getting your child(ren) to eat their vegetables and even more of a challenge getting them to actually enjoy them. Not eating fruits and vegetables can have health consequences ranging from obesity to macular degeneration, and it can lead to serious nutrient deficiencies. 

Researchers at the University of Georgia have examined the psychology of how vegetables are presented and served, and the findings show how a slight change in vegetable presentation can influence consumption behavior.

Julio Sevilla, co-author of this research study and associate professor in the UGA Terry College of Business marketing department says, "While past findings have shown that partitions can help curve the consumption of highly tempting, unhealthy foods, as a result of enhanced self-monitoring, our work provides support for another benefit of using partitions.” 

He states, “Interestingly, partitions can help increase the consumption of healthy items, such as vegetables, as they nudge consumers to finish what they started.”

Previous research shows that people consume less of a particular food if it’s packaged separately in a smaller portion, but they found that offering relatively less-appealing foods, like vegetables, in separate units might have the opposite effect and increase consumption.

The team conducted experiments by randomly presenting cauliflower in two separate ways: in whole presentation formats (all pieces on one plate) or a partitioned presentation format (split up in smaller units). They found that while, people didn’t eat different total amounts of cauliflower across the conditions, the presentation format did affect consumption.

In the whole presentation format, most participants only ate one piece of cauliflower. While, in the partitioned format, participants were less likely to stop at one piece and more likely to eat a whole serving (either four or six pieces depending on the study).

So, if your children are stubbornly succeeding in resisting vegetables, try switching up the way that you present them and partition them into smaller units.

Interested in learning more about food and nutrition, earn your Master of Food Technology or Master of Foods and Nutrition, Community Nutrition online, and view the original article on UGA Today.