Birds Eye tell us that British parents have traditionally always battled to get their children to eat more vegetables, however it seems that the tables have turned, as nationwide research has uncovered an emerging generation of adventurous young foodies, who consider Brussels sprouts, spinach and cabbage as a must-have on their dinner plate.
Almost a third (32 per cent) of parents surveyed say their children would eat just about any type of vegetable served to them – and only 29 per cent struggle to get their kids to eat their veg.
The study of 1,000 parents and children aged 4-9, commissioned by Birds Eye to celebrate their Eat in Full Colour campaign, shows that colourful carrots, peas, sweetcorn and broccoli are firm favourites, followed by peppers, cauliflower and green beans. Surprisingly, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and spinach were named by some 4-9 year olds as their preferred veg of choice.
So what explains this rise in popularity? Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of the young children surveyed recognise the importance of eating vegetables because they are healthy; 45 per cent think they will make them stronger; and 22 per cent think they will make them smarter. 11 per cent think it is really ‘cool’ to eat veg.
Dr Elizabeth Kilbey, Clinical Psychologist and star of Channel 4’s The Secret Life of 4, 5 and 6 year olds said: “It is no surprise that children are becoming more adventurous with the vegetables they eat.
“The rise of flexitarian or plant-based diets, healthy eating recipe books reaching prime spot on store shelves and leading food influencers focusing on veg-packed recipes, are all signs that healthy eating has become a huge part of popular culture.
“Children learn through observation and are heavily influenced by what they see adults around them doing. We know that if parents have a varied diet and an adventurous approach to food then it’s likely to rub off on their children. If they see the people they trust eating a certain vegetable and enjoying it, they’re more likely to give it a go, so it’s vital that parents aim to add different coloured vegetables to the plates of the whole family.”
While 15 per cent of children say the more colourful the plate, the more they will eat, there is still a significant proportion of parents who admit their children can still be fussy eaters. 23 per cent say their children tend to avoid certain colours of food and over a third (34 per cent) tend to stick to serving the same few meals every week.
The research also shows that children are more likely to try new food when they are at school or nursery (32 per cent) or at a friend’s house (18 per cent), suggesting that they might be open to experimenting with their taste buds when away from their everyday environment.
To test this theory and get more children eating a variety of veg, the frozen food brand opened a unique and colourful children’s-only restaurant experience, aimed to encourage less adventurous eaters to expand their palates by trying a rainbow of vegetable dishes.
The unique pop-up dining experience has been created in celebration of Bird’s Eye’s ‘Eat in Full Colour’ campaign, which aims to encourage Brits to add more colour, and therefore goodness, to their plates. The restaurant saw over 60 children age 4-7 sampling an array of vibrant and tasty vegetable-based meals.
Lauren Woodley, Nutrition Manager at Birds Eye, said: “It’s really encouraging to see that so many children are trying a colourful array of vegetables, but there will always be some that need some extra encouragement. With Birds Eye’s range of frozen vegetables, you can quickly add a healthy splash of colour and goodness to any dish and turn dull dinners into healthy, happy meals that all of the family will love.”
British children’s top 10 favourite vegetables revealed:
VeggieVision TV founder Karin Ridgers adds, “I have always encouraged my son Callum to try new foods and lots of vegetables – and especially as a life long vegan. We discovered early on that he really loves crunchy raw vegetables in particular so when encouraging your children to try new vegetables try some raw, grated, spiralised, try them with healthy sauces, steamed and not boiled to much making them tasteless and soggy – as kids don’t like them like this!”