Babies fed fruits, veggies early may eat more later in life

July 21, 2011

A study published in Public Health Nutrition shows that babies fed home-cooked fruits and veggies may be more likely to eat them when they are older. Researchers from England analyzed data from 7,866 mothers of children born in 1991 and 1992. The mothers completed self-reported questionnaires at six months and seven years postpartum, containing questions about their child’s fruit and vegetable intake.

The researchers found that children who were given home-cooked fruit or vegetables more often at six months were more likely to be eating a higher proportion of fruits and vegetables at seven years than those who were given them less often. Interestingly, there was no association with the consumption of ready-prepared fruits or vegetables at six months to the consumption at age seven.

In addition, the researchers found that babies weaned earlier, between four and six months, and exposed to fruit and vegetables regularly, had the highest level of consumption at age seven. However, those babies given home-cooked fruit and vegetables at a later age but given them more frequently, had similar levels of consumption as those given them earlier.

The researchers concluded that the findings support the concept that exposure to fruits and vegetables is important in the early weaning period. The finding that consumption of ready-prepared fruits and vegetables was not positively associated with their consumption later needs to be further investigated, with reference to theories of exposure, modeling, and parental food choices. If vegetables are introduced later in weaning, they need to be fed frequently, to ensure adequate exposure.