Oakland, CA  (F00d News)  For generations, kids have tried to convince their parents that broccoli tastes bad. According to a new study, they just might be right.

A study published by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that 70 percent of kids tested were bitter-sensitive, meaning bitter foods, such as broccoli and cucumber, can have a very unpleasant taste to them. The study did provide some hope, though: Bitter-sensitive kids who were offered a dip, in this case Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Dressing, ate 80 percent more vegetables than kids who weren’t given a dip. The findings held true regardless of the fat content of the dip, with kids consuming as many vegetables with low-fat ranch dressing as they did with a full fat version – good news for parents concerned about offering kids too much fat.

“Most parents probably aren’t even aware that their child may have a genetic reason for not liking the taste of broccoli and other bitter foods,” said Dr. Jennifer Orlet Fisher, a Temple University professor who authored the study. “The good news is that this study shows you can overcome some of those barriers by encouraging them to keep trying the vegetable – and providing a dip or dressing along with veggies appears to help some kids.”

In the study(1), 152 predominantly Hispanic children (87.5 percent) aged 3-5 years old and recruited from eight preschool classrooms were served an afternoon snack of raw broccoli twice a week for seven weeks. For bitter-sensitive kids, the combination of a familiar dip alongside repeatedly offering raw broccoli resulted in children eating more of that vegetable. In fact, bitter-sensitive children ate 80 percent more broccoli with Hidden Valley® salad dressings than when served the vegetable plain. After seven weeks, the number of children who said broccoli tasted “yummy” also increased by 18 percent.

“I’ve never met a parent who’s not familiar with the daily struggle to get their kids to eat better,” said veggie expert and registered dietitian Jodie Shield. “It’s helpful for parents to know that there is a reason why their kids might not eat vegetables and exciting to see that simple actions like offering a dip can have a profound difference in a child’s eating habits.”

The study tracked how much broccoli the kids ate at afternoon snacks in four scenarios: with no dressing, with regular dressing served as a dip, with light dressing served as a dip and with regular dressing served as a sauce. Parents provided insight into each child’s willingness to try new and unfamiliar foods, following the widely used Pliner’s Child Food Neophobia Questionnaire. After four weeks, students were assessed for bitter taste sensitivity (6-n-propylthiouracil or PROP) using a force-choice PROP tasting procedure, with 70 percent of the preschoolers showing sensitivity.

Dipping in Ranch Helps Kids Love Their Veggies

Ensuring kids get their daily recommended servings of vegetables can be difficult for parents. In fact, about 93 percent of children aged two to 12 fall short of the recommended 2-5 cups of veggies per day. (2)  This study is the latest in a growing body of science pointing toward viable veggie consumption solutions:

  • The Relevance of Ranch: A study suggested that consuming a moderate amount of fat with vegetables/salads may be beneficial to the body’s ability to adequately absorb fat-soluble nutrients.(3)
  • Getting Kids Involved in the Process: In a study of 600 school-aged children taking part in a nutrition curriculum intended to increase vegetables and whole grains consumption, researchers at Teachers College at Columbia University found that children who helped cook their own food were more likely to eat those foods in the cafeteria, and even ask for seconds.(4)
  • Making Veggie Eating Fun at Home: Parents participating in a home-based intervention program about fruits and vegetables led to increased knowledge and availability of both in the home, which was in turn a significant predictor of their children’s increased consumption.(5)

Getting Kids To Love Their Veggies

In an effort to help parents enhance their children’s nutrition, the makers of Hidden Valley Salad Dressings introduced the Love Your Veggies™ campaign. Now in its fifth year, the program offers parents and educators tools and resources to help grow kids’ taste for vegetables, including kid-friendly educational materials, annual events, interactive games/tools and nutrition education grants. Since the 2006 start of the program, the makers of Hidden Valley Salad Dressings have awarded nearly $1 million in funding for school nutrition programs.

Jodie Shield has worked with the Love Your Veggies campaign for several years now, helping to educate moms and media. “I’ve seen the impact a little information can have on a mom and her family’s diet, and this program helps make veggie eating educational and fun by helping mom involve her kids in the process starting with a simple, practical solution of dipping vegetables in ranch,” said Shield.

Visit www.LoveYourVeggies.com to learn more about the campaign.

About Hidden Valley®

The HV Food Products Company is a subsidiary of The Clorox Company, headquartered in Oakland, Calif. The Clorox Company is a leading manufacturer and marketer of consumer products with 8,100 employees and fiscal year 2011 revenues of $5.2 billion. Clorox markets some of consumers’ most trusted and recognized brand names, including its namesake bleach and cleaning products, Green Works® naturally derived home care products, Pine-Sol® cleaners, Poett® home care products, Fresh Step® cat litter, Kingsford® charcoal, Hidden Valley® and K C Masterpiece® dressings and sauces, Brita® water-filtration products, Glad® bags, wraps and containers, and Burt’s Bees® natural personal care products. Nearly 90 percent of Clorox Company brands hold the No. 1 or No. 2 market share positions in their categories. The company’s products are manufactured in more than two dozen countries and marketed in more than 100 countries. Clorox is committed to making a positive difference in the communities where its employees work and live. Founded in 1980, The Clorox Company Foundation has awarded cash grants totaling more than $84 million to nonprofit organizations, schools and colleges. In fiscal year 2011 alone, the foundation awarded $4 million in cash grants, and Clorox made product donations valued at $13 million. For more information about Clorox, visit www.TheCloroxCompany.com.

(1)  “Offering “Dip” Promotes Intake of a Moderately-Liked Vegetable among Preschoolers with Genetic Sensitivity to Bitterness.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association; Article in Press, Online November 24, 2011.

(2)  Produce for better Health Foundation and ACNielsen; State of the Plate; 2010

(3) “Carotenoid bioavailability is higher from salads ingested with full-fat than with fat-reduced salad dressings as measured with electrochemical detection.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2004): 396-403.

(4)  “Do you want your children to try new foods? Try keeping them in the kitchen.” Teacher College at Columbia University. 15 Sept. 2008 <http://www.tc.columbia.edu/news/article.htm?id=6665>.

(5) “High 5 for Kids: The impact of a home visiting program on fruit and vegetable intake of parents and their preschool children.” Preventive Medicine 9 Apr. 2008.

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