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December 10, 2008 > Healthy foods favored by kids

Healthy foods favored by kids

Submitted By Sara Korolevich

First 5 California - the statewide partner of First 5 Alameda - is releasing the results of a new study of 4- and 5-year-olds on healthy eating. As part of its childhood obesity prevention campaign, First 5 California commissioned Kelton Research to interview California preschoolers. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the study revealed kids not only like to eat fruits and vegetables, they frequently prefer them to candy.

Last summer, Jessica Seinfeld released a cookbook on how to trick kids into eating healthy foods by hiding pureed zucchini into brownies or otherwise masking their flavor. This study demonstrates all that fuss by parents is unnecessary, and the assumption that kids are predisposed to dislike healthy foods is false. In fact, this research suggests children will eat healthy foods if parents make them regularly available.

"The research found the common belief that it's an uphill battle to get young kids to eat healthy foods like broccoli or carrots is false," said Kris Perry, executive director of state agency First 5 California. "We were thrilled to see preschoolers express real enthusiasm for a variety of fruits and vegetables as well as healthy drinks like milk."

Kelton Research, a national polling firm, conducted interviews in English and Spanish with 4- and 5-year-olds attending preschools in Fresno, Los Angeles and Sacramento counties between Sept. 22 and 26. Fewer than half of California's children ages 2 to 11 eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetable servings daily (5 or more servings), according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Further, almost 25 percent of them eat two or more servings of cookies, candy, doughnuts or popsicles every day.

Lack of proper nutrition contributes to certain health problems, such as the rising trend in childhood obesity. In California, one in three children is overweight or at risk of becoming overweight - far worse than the national average. "While there has been a lot of research on barriers to childhood nutrition, this study dispels the myth that kids are predisposed to dislike healthy foods," Perry said. "Now our challenge is to help parents find simple, affordable ways to prepare nutritious meals and snacks for their kids."

To help children eat healthier, First 5 California has published a free mini cookbook filled with healthy and affordable recipes developed by nutritionist and popular Latina TV personality Chef LaLa, a guest on Martha Stewart, The Today Show and Telemundo. The bilingual booklet also includes important tips, such as healthy portion sizes for kids and how to read nutrition labels. Yummy for Your Tummy is available for free to all Californians by calling 1-800-KIDS-025 or visiting www.first5california.com. The recipe book is posted online at www.ccfc.ca.gov - Just click on the Yummy for Your Tummy booklet on the home page and you'll be able to see all the recipes. Soon the booklet also will be available at Albertsons stores in California.

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