Findings from a new German study shows that children will eat significantly more fruits and vegetables if they stay at the table for only ten minutes more -- 30 minutes in total. On average, they ate an additional 100 grams of fruits and vegetables.
One-hundred grams represents about one of the five recommended daily portions of fruits and vegetables and is as much as a small apple or a small bell pepper. According to research, one additional daily portion of fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of cardiometabolic disease (e.g., insulin resistance, fatty liver, type 2 diabetes) by 6 to 7 percent. For such an effect, a sufficient quantity of fruits and vegetables must be available on the table -- bite-sized pieces are best," said the researchers.
About the study
Fifty pairs of parents and 50 children participated in the study. The average age of children was 8 years and the average age of parents was 43 years. An equal number of boys and girls participated.
The participants were served a typical German dinner with sliced bread, cold cuts, and cheese, as well as fruits and vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces.
"The duration of the meal is one of the central components of a family meal which parents can vary to improve the diet of their children. We had already found hints of this relation in a meta-analysis on studies looking at the qualitative components of healthy family meals. In this new experimental study, we were able to prove a formerly only correlative relationship," said the researchers.
The study also shows that longer family meals did not lead to the children eating more bread or cold cuts; they also did not eat more dessert.
Researchers assume that the bite-sized pieces of fruits and vegetables were easier to eat and, as a result, more enticing.
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