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Getting to the root of why kids don’t like vegetables

Child feeding experts at Loughborough University are hoping to unearth the reasons why some pre-schoolers simply refuse to eat vegetables.

In early to middle childhood, it’s very common for children to refuse certain foods. This phase, known as neophobia, serves an evolutionary purpose to stop newly mobile children from eating foods which may do them harm.

It is thought humans may be genetically programmed to be wary of vegetables, due to their typically bitter taste which is historically associated with poisonous fruits.  

University researcher Clare Holley wants to understand the problems parents and primary caregivers face, in order to develop effective strategies to encourage children to eat more vegetables. She said:

“Parents know the health benefits of eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, which makes it even more frustrating when their little ones refuse to eat them.

“I want to speak to parents whose children are refusing vegetables so I can develop practical tools and advice to help alleviate the stress parents experience whilst trying to give their child a healthy and balanced diet.”

Clare is looking for parents and primary caregivers whose 2-4 year-olds refuse, or are very reluctant, to eat a variety of vegetables.

Participants will be invited to an informal group meeting where they can discuss the problems they face with Clare and other parents in a similar situation.

To take part in the research contact Clare on 01509 228151 or email c.holley@lboro.ac.uk

Clare is part of the Loughborough University Centre for Research into Eating Disorders (LUCRED) within the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (SSEHS).