Previous work by Hort Innovation has identified exposure, role modelling and conviviality (positive experiences and enjoyment) as effective ways to foster children’s long-term vegetable acceptance. However, advice on how to encourage acceptance of vegetables in the early years of life is lacking.

VegKIT is addressing this issue by leveraging dietary advice opportunities to enhance age appropriate, evidence-based, practical advice as a sustainable way to increase longer term demand for vegetables.

What is the issue?

Less than five per cent of four to five year old children meet current dietary recommendations for vegetable intake, and this low intake is largely due to poor acceptance leading to lack of demand by families.

Food preference development in the early years

The first years of life are a critical period. Children develop food preferences and habits from an early age, with likes and dislikes established as early as two to three years of age. Young children’s innate food preferences and unwillingness to try unfamiliar foods is readily modified by experience, however, current advice lacks evidence-based practical strategies and guidelines on how to encourage acceptance of vegetables in the first three to five years of life.

How is VegKIT addressing this issue?

VegKIT is undertaking a comprehensive approach to understanding the evidence and current advice related to vegetable preference development. The aim is to identify opportunities to increase children’s preference for, and acceptance of, vegetables.

VegKIT will:

  1. Review the science
  2. Review current dietary advice
  3. Develop recommendations to strengthen advice in the early years to encourage vegetable acceptance.

Who are we collaborating with?

VegKIT has established an international group of experts across maternal and child health and development, psychology, sensory science and food and nutrition. Their role is to advise and provide guidance on the project’s strategies and execution.

The activity will also engage with key people in policy and guideline advice development, implementation and dissemination to co-design recommendations that encourage increased vegetable intake.

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