UT study reports increase in vegetable consumption can prevent diseases in overweight children

Aimée Santillán

A recent UT study found an increase in vegetable consumption in children is enough to prevent diseases and improve health.

The study, contributed to by Jaimie Davis, nutritional sciences assistant professor, was published in the November edition of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It was originally focused on trying to determine whether every vegetable had the same effect on the body, according to Davis. She said the research team discovered that some vegetables have a greater positive effect than others. Five other researchers from the University of Southern California assisted with the study.

“Even a small amount of green and orange vegetables have a great effect in children’s health,” Davis said. “They can also help in the prevention of diseases.”    

Davis said many diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, may be prevented with the consumption of small amounts of leafy vegetables, including spinach, broccoli and lettuce. She also said consumption could reduce liver fat and visceral fat, which is fat in and around the organs that can be toxic to the body.

“We found that not even more than a full serving in an ordinary meal would make a big difference in the children’s health,” Davis said.    

According to Davis, researchers made it a goal to not only send information to policy makers, but also to parents, so they could plan healthier meals for their children.    

“This research could pursue policy makers to push leafy green vegetables in a school’s lunch,” Davis said.

A statement from the University said the research found eating the right kind of vegetables would not necessarily help children lose weight, but will help children who are most at risk for diseases.

“This research shows that policy makers can make a difference if they roll up their sleeves and help serve even one healthy vegetable each day to a toddler in child care, a student in the school cafeteria or a family in an isolated neighborhood,” said Lauren Dimitry, health and business fitness policy associate with Texans Care for Children, a nonprofit organization that works on children’s issues.

Dimitry said she thinks the research could help change the way people view nutrition. 

“Most of all, I think this research illustrates that increasing nutrition is important and achievable,” Dimitry said.