Increasing vegetable intake in Mexican-American youth: a randomized controlled trial

J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 May;111(5):716-20. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2011.02.006.


Despite the health benefits, vegetable intake in youth remains below recommended levels. The purpose of our study was to compare two methods for increasing vegetable consumption. It was hypothesized that participants randomized to both the exposure-only and the pairing condition would increase their vegetable consumption and increase the variety of vegetables consumed. A total of 78 Mexican-American middle school-aged children from a charter school in Houston, TX, were randomized to a pairing condition (n=40) or an exposure-only condition (n=38) during the Spring 2009 semester. Children in the pairing condition were provided a preferred taste (peanut butter) paired with vegetables weekly at school during a nutrition class for 4 months. Children in the exposure-only condition received vegetables weekly during a nutrition class that covered the same material as the pairing condition. After 4 months, the pairing condition participants demonstrated significant increases in vegetable consumption (F=13.40, P<0.001) as well as variety of vegetables eaten (F=13.69, P<0.001) when compared to those in the exposure-only condition. The findings of this study suggest that the pairing of vegetables with a preferred taste, such as peanut butter, may be an effective technique in increasing consumption, especially in children who report being resistant to eating vegetables.

Trial registration: NCT00454610.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arachis
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexican Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychology, Child*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Taste*
  • Vegetables*

Associated data