Would offering vegetables to children for breakfast increase their total daily vegetable intake?

Public Health Nutr. 2022 Sep 12;1-5. doi: 10.1017/S1368980022002002. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

The consumption of vegetables is vitally important for children's health and development. However, in many Westernised countries, most children do not eat sufficient quantities of vegetables and consume many energy-dense and high-sugar foods; a health behaviour associated with the onset of non-communicable diseases. To address this important public health concern, it is necessary to think 'outside the box' and consider innovative and pragmatic ways to increase children's daily vegetable intake. In many countries, caregivers implementing best-practice child feeding methods typically offer children vegetables at lunch, dinner and for snacks. It is unusual for children to be routinely offered vegetables for breakfast, yet there is no nutritional, physiological or medical reason why vegetables should not be eaten at breakfast. Indeed, in some countries, children frequently consume vegetables for breakfast. Increasing children's exposure to vegetables at breakfast from an early age would allow for the development of a positive association between eating vegetables and breakfast, thus providing another opportunity in the day where vegetables might be regularly consumed by children. In this paper, we propose a rationale for why vegetables should be routinely offered to young children at breakfast time in countries where this may not be the norm. Future research assessing the feasibility and acceptability of such a public health intervention would provide health policy agencies with evidence about a potentially effective and easily implementable approach for increasing children's vegetable intake, thus improving their overall nutritional status, as well as their heath and development.

Keywords: Children; Feeding practices; Health behaviour change; Healthy eating; Vegetables.