Research reveals 55% of children aged four and under have two or fewer portions of vegetables a day
JLS band member, turned farmer, JB Gill, with his two children, Ace, 6 and Chiara, 2,

A report has revealed millions of pre-school children don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables. UK children’s food brand Organix said 55% of children aged four and under have two or fewer portions of vegetables a day, accounting for two million children.

The company’s research showed that one fifth (20%) of all UK pre-schoolers eat only one portion a day; one third of all UK pre-schoolers (32%) eat only two; almost 116,000 children have no vegetables at all in their daily diet. It also showed that of the vegetables eaten, the classic six are the most eaten, with carrots the most popular.

The research, in partnership with YouGov, undertaken among UK parents with children under four found that one in four (24%) felt guilty about their child’s daily diet. Repeated lockdowns have also led to an increase in the number of processed foods youngsters are consuming. Despite trying lots of different techniques, parents worry about providing a lack of variety and not giving their children enough vegetables.

A quarter of all parents and guardians said they would like to increase the variety of foods in their children’s diets. Almost half of parents admit to giving up introducing new foods after six attempts, despite the average time it takes for children to take to a new food being between 11 and 15 times. Almost one-in-three parents said they would not persevere with a vegetable their child refused to eat for fear of upsetting them. Over half of parents, 53%, also admitted to hiding vegetables in their children’s meals.

Organix said its ‘Good for planet. Good for me.’ campaign will support parents to make healthier food choices. One way is to avoid stress at mealtimes. Following advice from infant nutritionists, it recommends trying new fruit and vegetables away from the dinner table, in a more relaxing environment, while they are at leisure.

JLS band member, turned farmer, JB Gill, who has two children, Ace, 6 and Chiara, 2, with wife Chloe, has been announced as brand ambassador for Organix’s campaign, which is partnering with the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), the charity representing UK children’s nurseries across the UK.

Gill will be encouraging children to participate in a range of more than 90 fun and engaging food activities to expose them to fruit and veg. Designed to make food fun and enjoyable for children, the campaign aims to take the stress out of dinner time and help them explore healthy food through play, taste and textures, and by exploring a colourful rainbow of fruit and veg.

Mark Golder, managing director of Organix, said: “Campaigning has always been a huge part of who we are. From our inception nearly 30 years ago, we have been challenging the government and food industry to do the right thing for both parents and children. Our past research has led to high-profile direct action, from Jamie’s School Dinner campaign, to getting blue Smarties made with Azo dye removed from packs.

“‘Good for planet. Good for me.’ was born out of our mission to do better for future generations by supporting parents and caregivers to get little ones loving fruit and veg. As far as we’re concerned, there’s no better gift we can give.”

Gill added: “As a parent, I know how tough it can be to get your children eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. That’s why I’m so excited to be involved in this campaign because I know how important it is and if there’s an easier way to support parents and caregivers to do this, fantastic. As a father and a farmer, I also know how when you show kids and help them understand where food comes from, you’ll have much greater success in getting them to rethink their relationship with it. To that effect, we’ve created a wealth of amazing content to inspire parents, family members and nurseries. I can’t wait to share it with my two and help them become rainbow explorers too.”

NDNA chief executive Purnima Tanuku commented: “Nurseries play a vital role in a child’s formative years and this last year has had a big impact on children’s health, wellbeing and development. We all know something remarkable happens when children are with other children in a nursery, like being more likely to try new foods if it’s part of a fun activity or when they see their friends eating it. So, these resources will be a great support, helping children to explore a range of fruit and vegetables together and giving them healthy habits for life.”

Date published: 12 May 2021

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