Tools and interventions for increasing children’s vegetable intake
From 2018 to 2022, the VegKIT investment identified new ways to supply vegetables to children and developed a range of resources (available here) to help growers serve the key consumer market of families with young children. Through establishing partnerships with vegetable growers, food service businesses and educators, the project addressed the low intake of vegetables in young children aged two to six.
Consecutive national surveys have indicated that two to six-year-old children are not consuming enough vegetables with only six per cent achieving recommended intakes. Furthermore, there is evidence that low intake in childhood tracks into adulthood, posing threats to the vegetable industry and individuals’ health.
VegKIT tested a change in traditional health messaging by implementing a ‘learning to like’ mechanism for growing children’s acceptance of vegetables.
The VegKIT project included six activities:
- Development of best-practice guidelines to increase vegetable consumption.
- Creation of a national online register of initiatives to increase vegetable consumption.
- Development and coordination of the Vegetable Intake Strategic Alliance (VISA).
- Update of current dietary advice for maternal, infant, and early years, using evidence-based knowledge of flavour exposure and food preference development, to improve vegetable acceptance.
- Execution of initiatives in the community (for long day-care settings).
- Development of supply chain initiatives (industry innovations) and interventions in early primary school settings.
Over the course of five years, investment in VegKIT project activities resulted in:
- Increased vegetable sales by 75 per cent in school canteens.
- 10,000 downloads of best practice guidelines.
- Creation of an online national registry evaluating 23 national and international vegetable initiatives.
- Evidence-based advice on child vegetable exposure in infancy was published, ready for submission to the Australian Dietary Guidelines’ revision process.