Researchers served lunch to 51 children at a daycare center on four occasions and measured their vegetable intake.
Children were provided with no carrots or 30 grams (about 1 ounce), 60 grams (about 2 ounces), or 90 grams (about 3 ounces) of carrots as the first course of their lunch.
The children had 10 minutes to eat the carrots, after which researchers served them pasta, broccoli, unsweetened applesauce, and low-fat milk.
They found that when children received no first course of carrots, they consumed about 23 grams of broccoli from the main course.
When the children received 30 grams of carrots at the start of the meal, their broccoli intake rose by nearly 50 percent compared to having no carrots as a first course.
But to the researchers surprise, when the first course of carrots was increased to 60 grams of carrots, average broccoli consumption nearly tripled to about 63 grams - about a third of the recommended daily vegetable intake for preschool children.
Researchers suggest that if parents are looking for ways to boost their children's vegetable intake - simply putting some vegetables out for them to snack on while they're hungry might do the trick. The findings were reported in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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