Background: Although serving a greater variety of food increases intake, this effect has not been well studied as a strategy to encourage consumption of vegetables and fruit in preschool children. Objective: This study examined whether providing a variety of familiar vegetables or fruit to preschool children as a snack would lead to increased selection and intake. Design: In a crossover design, 61 children (aged 3-5 y) ate a snack in their childcare facility on 8 afternoons. At 4 snack times, the children were offered vegetables: either a single type (cucumber, sweet pepper, or tomato) or a variety of all 3 types. At 4 other snack times, the children were offered fruit (apple, peach, pineapple, or all 3 types). Uniform-sized pieces were served family style, and children selected and ate as much as they desired. Results: Offering a variety of vegetables or fruit increased the likelihood of selection (P < 0.0001); children chose some pieces in 94% of snacks with variety and in 70% of snacks without variety. Serving a variety also increased consumption of both vegetables and fruit (P < 0.0002); the mean (±SEM) increase was 31 ± 5 g, about one-sixth the recommended daily amount. Independent of the variety effect, children were less likely to select vegetables than fruit (P < 0.0001), and the mean intake was substantially less for vegetables than for fruit (22 ± 1 compared with 84 ± 3 g). Conclusions: Providing a variety of vegetables and fruit as a snack led to increased consumption of both food types in a childcare facility. Serving a variety of vegetables or fruit as a snack could help preschool children meet recommended intakes. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01557218.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Nutrition and Dietetics