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Serving kids fruits and vegetables is not a waste of time
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Serving a child fruits and vegetables isnt a waste of time, even if the child doesnt like or wont eat them, according to a new study from the University of Arizona. - photo by Marsha Maxwell
Serving a child fruits and vegetables isnt a waste of time, even if the child doesnt like or wont eat them, according to a new study from the University of Arizona.

The study found that exposure to a food in childhood is related to liking that food in adulthood, regardless of whether the child liked the food at the time. Being exposed to a food increased liking both healthy and unhealthy foods, so theres some evidence that decreasing a childs exposure to unhealthy foods will make those foods less desirable in the long run.

If parents force a child to eat a particular food, that strategy may backfire, the study showed. Young adults in the study were more likely to dislike foods they had been forced to eat as children.

Its frustrating to keep serving a child food they dont want to eat, but rather than giving up, parents can try strategies to make healthy foods more appealing, according to Dr. Dyan Hess, pediatrician and child obesity specialist.

Make it look attractive. Kids like things that are fun. You can put grapes on toothpicks or open a clementine and make little patterns with them. Or make a flower with a grape in the center. Put stuff on skewers for kids, Hess told Time Warner Cable News.

Some of the kid-friendly, healthy foods Hess recommends are natural fruit crisps, graham crackers, cheese sticks and dried apricots.

Its important for parents to know that their efforts to promote healthy eating, and to create a healthy home environment overall, arent wasted. A recent study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation found that children brought up in homes that provided positive psychosocial experiences were more likely to have good cardiovascular health as adults. These experiences included a healthy diet, positive health behaviors, learning to control emotions and opportunities to socialize.

Homes dont have to be perfect in every category to contribute to better cardiovascular health, the study found. The choices parents make have a long-lasting effect on their children's future health, and improvement in any one thing can have measurable benefits, Dr. Laura Pulkki-Rback, one of the studys authors, told The Daily Mail.

'For instance, if an unemployed parent gets steady employment, the effect may be huge. If he or she also quits smoking, the benefit is even greater, she said. All efforts to improve family well-being are beneficial.