Only 5% of young children eat enough vegetables in Australia. EPOCH stream leader, Professor Rebecca Golley, as part of a consortia with CSIRO and Nutrition Australia (Victoria Division) has brought together a multidisciplinary team to increase vegetable consumption among children and their families.
Young children's innate food preferences and unwillingness to try unfamiliar foods is readily modified by experience. Australian guidelines could be leveraged to incorporate evidence-informed strategies on how to encourage acceptance of vegetables in the first 1000 days.
A new initiative, VegKit, a collaboration between policymakers, researchers, retailers, early learning and parenting organisations, the horticultural industry and a number of health promoting bodies, is looking at how they can promote vegetable intake in the first 1000 days.
The first in a series of stakeholder workshops was held with Australian experts in February 2020 hosted by Flinders University Caring Futures Institute. Led by EPOCH stream lead Professor Rebecca Golley, the workshop used a group consensus process to consider the current science to inform policy advice on shaping young children's willingness to try and acceptance of vegetables.
Strategies such as having vegetables available, using repeated exposure and ensuring the whole family eats vegetables came out as strong priorities and are consistent with the messages of the EPOCH interventions.
"This important workshop provided real time and resource to enable us to stringently evaluate the evidence we use to promote vegetable consumption for infants and their parents in our interventions. To do this in a room of experts was incredibly valuable and has provided endorsement for the strategies promoted in INFANT and My Baby Now - our family based programs supporting improved early life eating and active play."
Previous work led by EPOCH affiliate Ms Britt Johnson demonstrates the energy moderation impact that could be achieved by switching discretionary foods with vegetables.
Professor Golley was interviewed by Channel 9 News about this initiative. To read more about this initiative, please visit www.vegkit.com.au. VegKIT is funded by Hort Innovation, using vegetable research and development levy and contributions from the Australian Government. Hort Innovation is the grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australian horticulture.