Sneaky veges boost kids' nutrition

21:21, Oct 16 2012
Barbara Rolls
SNEAKY TACTICS WORK: Barbara Rolls says parents have to get creative to ensure children eat vegetables.

If your kids refuse to eat vegetables then your best option is to sneak them in by stealth, says a leading nutrition expert.

Dr Barbara Rolls, a nutrition professor and director of Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behaviour at Penn State University in the United States, said sneaking it in could be an option.

Rolls conducted a study which showed adding a substantial amount of pureed vegetables into all of the main dishes of the day increased veggie intake by 100 per cent in three to five year old children.
"To me it was win win. They were eating a more nutritious diet," she said.
"We need to get more innovative, use specific scientific-based strategies to make them eat vegetables."

Rolls said giving children bigger portions of vegetables at the start of the meal was another way to get them to eat veggies.

"There are no competing foods and kids are hungry. If you give kids a choice for greater variety of fruit and vegetables that also increases their intake."

Children's eating behaviour is one of the topics Rolls will be talking about at this year's Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society (ANZOS) Annual Scientific Meeting, which begins in Auckland tomorrow.


She will also be discussing volumetrics - an eating plan that focuses on foods that make you full.  She is the author of more than 250 scientific articles and six books, including three on volumetrics with the latest - The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet - released in April this year.

Rolls argues that if people could choose between eating more or less, they will choose more almost every time.

Her approach is to find foods that you can eat lots of while still losing weight. "Obviously the key to managing your weight is to ... match to calories in and out," she said. "There is no magic way around that unfortunately, even though a lot of people would like you to think that."

Rolls said research shows that the lower the calorie density (the amount of calories divided by the amount of grams) in foods, the bigger portions you can eat.

The key to reducing calorie density was to incorporate foods with high water content such as fruit and vegetables, she said.

Another option is taking out some of the fat.
"I'm not recommending a very low fat diet because I think now we realise there are a lot of healthy fats and we need the fat, but a lot of us get a lot of fat in foods that we really don't need and don't add to the enjoyment salsas on vegetables."

Rolls said it didn't mean people needed to scrap foods they enjoy, rather they needed to figure out how to keep it sustainable.

"Everybody needs to have some idea of how many calories they should eat over the day and how those calories should be divided up. 
"I'm not advocating that they need to count everything, but they ... need to be able to judge for different foods what appropriate portions are," she said.
"They need to start looking at labels. They need to educate themselves."

How do you get your kids to eat vegetables?