Lifewatch: Preschool Diet

WILMINGTON -- Getting children to eat their fruits and vegetables is not always easy, especially if they're not normally on the menu.

New research indicates introducing good foods and exercise when kids are still in daycare is the key to turning healthy children into healthy adults.

At the YMCA child care center in Liberty City, preschoolers snack on broccoli and pineapple.

The children are part of a University of Miami intervention program aimed at preventing obesity.  Researchers discovered it was already a problem for some of their young subjects.

"I would never think that a 3 year old would be obese that's a body mass index in the 95th percentile. That was really shocking," said Ruby Natale, PhD, the study author.

Researchers were also surprised by how quickly the children embraced their new snack offerings.

When the 6 month study was started there was plenty of skepticism from adults.

"We were told that the children were going to hate broccoli and this was never going to work. Some teachers even referred to it as prison food. You are going to serve pita and cheese and the kids are never going to go for this," said Ruby Natale, PhD.

Researchers and the children involved proved them wrong.  On average, cookie consumption decreased 50 percent, and fruit and vegetables increased by 25 percent.

The children drank 50 percent less juice, and 20 percent more water.

Researchers are hoping the study's results will lead to changes in the food and drinks served at child care centers across the country.

Reported by Kristy Ondo