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Research revealing veg intake in kids increases with positive images prompts launch of ebooks

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The British Nutrition Foundation has launched a range of education tools to encourage children to eat their greens after research has shown that seeing images of vegetables can boost children’s intake.

A variety of new resources, based on the evidence that children who are exposed to pictures of vegetables are more likely to eat them, have been launched as part of the See & Eat project, an initiative funded by European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Food, led by Professor Carmel Houston-Price at the University of Reading and supported by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF).

The 24 eBooks are designed to help parents familiarise their young children with a greater variety of vegetables, along with numerous other resources, including meal planners, shopping lists, and family-friendly recipes, developed to support parents and carers in encouraging their children to eat more vegetables.

The project team is currently conducting a study to understand whether extra interactivity and personalisation through eBooks, such as adding photos or videos of shopping for, preparing or eating vegetables, can support children to become even more receptive to new vegetables.

Dr Natalie Masento, a collaborator on the project at the University of Reading, commented: “It is well established that children often need 10-15 exposures to new foods before they accept them into their diets. But, having to prepare different vegetables on more than 10 occasions, without them being eaten, can be very frustrating – and costly – for many parents. Research has shown, however, that children’s acceptance of new foods can be boosted purely by a food’s visual familiarity, for instance, by looking at pictures.

“The theory of food familiarisation through picture books is well accepted and we hope that, through easy-to-access eBooks, even more parents will be able to use this tool to support their children to eat their vegetables. Our current study – exploring the effects of personalisation and interactivity on children’s receptiveness to new vegetables – is looking positive and we’re excited to see the results next year.”

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