Coercing children to eat their vegetables is a familiar struggle. You didn’t get a greenhouse and grow your own vegetables to then find out your kids want nothing to do with anything healthy!
Over the years, parents up and down the land have adopted unusual tactics in an effort to make greens seem palatable. While food nutrition for babies is easy since they’ll eat anything if you can convince them it’s an airplane, kids are much trickier as they turn into fussy eaters. Sometimes parents resort to sneaking veggies into family meals – hiding cauliflower under cheese sauce, for instance, or chopping tiny nuggets of vegetables into soups, quiches and casseroles.
It’s not just parents. Advertising execs have got in on the act, too. Green Giant is perhaps the most famous example, its brawny mascot acting as a coded message: eat greens and you’ll grow to be big and strong.
It seems that no matter what parents do, the majority of children balk at the idea of eating vegetables on a consistent basis. One new and novel approach to tackling their apathy is to bribe them with cash. The suggestion comes from Tam Fry, head spokesperson for the National Obesity Forum and honorary chairman of the Child Growth Foundation. Fry thinks that parents should offer kids financial inducements in order to help boost the nation’s health.
The proposal follows a YouGov survey last week that revealed some worrying statistics. One was that almost a third (29%) of parents in Scotland have abandoned adding greens to their children’s plate at some stage. In a way, it’s unsurprising: in another 2015 study, only 21% of Scottish adults were said to eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day. If parents aren’t setting the right example, children’s nutrition is certain to fall by the wayside.
‘Money is always a good incentive,’ says Fry, who wants kids to eat their vegetables while learning about money management. ‘It is a tangible reward for children eating their vegetables but allows them to understand the value of money and how to save it for later in life.’