If you needed any more proof that eating your veggies was important, researchers have found it.
According to a study of over 2,000 children, kids who eat just one serving of vegetables a day significantly reduce their risk of metabolic syndrome in adulthood. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of conditions that often occur together and can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
The research, which is part of the Young Finns Study, followed children over a 27 year period and examined the associations between childhood lifestyle factors and metabolic syndrome in adulthood. These factors included how often the children ate vegetables, fruit, fish, meat, and butter as well as their level of physical activity.
The study found that the more often vegetables were eaten during childhood; the less likely they were to develop metabolic syndrome and other heart disease-related illnesses in adult life. Importantly, they found that eating vegetables was beneficial, independent of all other lifestyle factors. It found no association with the other childhood lifestyle factors.
It also showed those children who ate vegetables once a week or less had an increased risk of high blood pressure and high triglyceride levels. These associations were independent of adult vegetable consumption.
Researcher, Doctor Matt Sabin from Murdoch Childrens, who was involved in the analysis of data in this study said every effort to support and promote a healthy lifestyle in childhood is needed to stop the increase in the prevalence of obesity and metabolic syndrome.
“This study showed that children should be encouraged to eat vegetables every day, or almost every day, to get their protective effect against the metabolic syndrome in adulthood. We also found no specific age that this effect related to, meaning childhood vegetable consumption is probably really important at all ages.”
“Previous research within the Young Finns Study, found that food choices are established early in childhood, and that these behaviours may track into adulthood. Therefore, it is important to focus on dietary education in childhood if we are to prevent adverse outcomes, like the metabolic syndrome.”