Veggies won’t keep preschoolers away from junk food

By: | Updated: January 12, 2016 2:33 PM

If you were living in the myth that if your kid eats veggies he won't head towards junk food, then it's time you pop your bubble as a new research has some interesting revelations.

If you were living in the myth that if your kid eats veggies he won’t head towards junk food, then it’s time you pop your bubble as a new research has some interesting revelations.

Preschoolers from low-income neighborhoods in Columbus who ate fruits and vegetables and drank milk many times every day were just as likely to eat foods high in sugar, salt and fat as those who rarely ate healthy foods, found a research team led by Sarah Anderson at The Ohio State University.

Anderson said they assumed that the children who ate a lot of healthy foods would also be those who did not eat a lot of unhealthy foods. He just thought that was the way the world was and it turned out not to be the case.

When she and her colleagues looked for connections, studying their data in multiple ways, they found zero link. It’s too soon to call for policy changes based on this work alone, the researchers said and claimed that a larger national study is underway.

Co-author Phyllis said this suggests that they have to have two conversations. There has been a kind of assumption there that if a person encourages people to adopt healthy eating that it naturally leads to a decline in unhealthy eating. Efforts to lower childhood obesity rates often focus on adding good foods, rather than on avoiding bad foods.

During the study, the researchers interviewed parents or guardians of 357 children in the age group of two to five years and asked them to recall how often the kids ate certain foods in the past week.

This research doesn’t mean parents and policymakers should give up efforts to increase intake of more-nutritious foods, but it does challenge the idea that good automatically replaces bad.

Anderson compared the discovery to previous research showing that a person can at once be both very active and highly sedentary. About half the children in the study ate fruit two or more times a day. Some rarely ate vegetables, but more than a third had them multiple times a day. Most of the children drank milk at least once a day. In the week prior to the interview with a parent or guardian, only a third of the children did not drink sugar-sweetened beverages including soda pop and 29 percent had not eaten fast food.

The research is published in Maternal and Child Health Journal.

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