Myth 17: Kids like candy better than fruits and veggies.

FruitContrary to popular belief, a new study released by First 5 California found that parents don’t need to sneak fruits and vegetables into their children’s meals — kids say they actually like them! Interviews with more than 100 preschoolers across California revealed that kids not only know it’s important to eat fruits and vegetables, they frequently prefer them to candy.

“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

“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 published a free mini cookbook with easy, inexpensive and delicious recipes developed by nutritionist and popular Latina TV personality Chef LaLa. The bilingual booklet also includes important nutrition tips for families with young children, such as healthy portion sizes 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 Soon the booklet also will be available at Albertsons stores in California.

“There’s a widespread misconception that healthy food is harder and more time-consuming to make,” said Chef LaLa. “It’s my hope that ‘Yummy for Your Tummy’ will help families see that they can get delicious food on the table without a lot of hassle or emptying their wallets.”


About First 5 California

First 5 California, also known as the California Children and Families Commission, was established after voters passed Proposition 10 in November 1998, adding a 50 cents-per-pack tax on cigarettes to fund education, health, child care and other programs for expectant parents and children up to age 5.

First 5 California

2 Responses

  1. Another resource being use to improve kid’s nutritional status is my new book “The ABC’s of Fruits and Vegetables and Beyond.” Out only a few months and already being bought in quantity for class use. I hope parents and teachers interested in getting kids to develop a friendly attitude towards fruits and vegetables should take a look at it.
    It is designed for kids of all ages as it is two books in one – children first learn their alphabet through produce poems and then go on to hundreds of related activities. Coauthored by best-selling food writer David Goldbeck (me) and Jim Henson writer Steve Charney. More at

  2. Of course children like vegetables. Who wouldn’t? If they cooked nicely with oil, seasonings or souce. They are awesome. My 3 year old twins love eggplant, avocado, bok-choy, cauliflower you name it. And I don’t have to sneak them in, they taste good on their own when cooked nicely.

    I think the main problem is that we for the most part do NOT cook them nicely but rather serve boiled on a side (especially in schools). Of course children hate boiled broccoli or carrots. Who wouldn’t? Try to boil a piece of meat, it tastes like a shoe sole. Same are vegetables.

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