NEW YORK — According to a survey of 2,000 parents with school-age kids (ages 5–17), nearly eight in 10 parents (78%) believe their child has a “mature palate” and prefers foods usually consumed by adults.
Carrots (45%), cucumbers (43%), and potatoes (44%) topped the list of preferred vegetables, while apples (45%), bananas (44%), and oranges (41%) were kids’ fruits of choice. As for protein, more than half (55%) of parents said their child prefers chicken for lunch, much more so than ham (39%), which was the least popular.
Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Veggies Made Great, the survey also found that 58 percent of kids are the rebels of their friend group, opting for vegetables (43%), fruits (37%), and meats (37%) that none of their friends would eat. Flavor (53%), smell (46%), and shareability (45%) also influenced kids’ choices.
For breakfast, pancakes (29%) are the favorite, over croissants (14%) or waffles (10%). Also, hot food easily triumphs over cold ones (56% vs. 23%). Kids also requested other additions to their first meal of the day, from chocolate (36%) and donuts (36%) to pizza (34%) and cookies (34%). Meanwhile, snack time’s not complete without staples like fruits (37%), yogurt (36%), crackers (36%), smoothies (34%), and popcorn (34%).
However, 56 percent of parents said their child “always” or “often” leaves lunch uneaten — with the number one part left over still being vegetables, according to 46 percent.
“Multiple studies over the years have shown that eating balanced meals throughout the day affects children’s behavior and academic potential,” says Carolyn O’Neil, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for Veggies Made Great, in a statement. “Things we don’t always link to nutrition, such as the ability to focus and think clearly, are impacted by what kids eat, and how often.”
Is there a correlation between academic achievements and food preferences?
Among parents who agreed their child is a top student, the overwhelming majority said their youngster prefers potatoes (98%) and carrots (97%) for lunch. Meanwhile, those with children who don’t do well in school were less likely to cite these preferences (60% and 53%, respectively).
As kids get older, however, they’re not always eating the same things. More than half (56%) of parents said their child’s palate has changed over the years, with friends (34%) and influencers or celebrities (34%) playing the biggest role in this shift.
The survey also found most kids prefer lunches their parents cook over the ones served at school (75% vs. 10%). Another 37 percent of parents said their child is more likely to eat the entirety of their lunch compared to other meals, with 25 percent finishing their breakfast and only 18 percent eating their full serving of dinner.
“Nearly eight in 10 (77%) parents polled wish their child ate healthier, but it can be challenging to find time to prepare three healthy meals each day — especially with multiple kids,” says Elliot Huss, CEO of Veggies Made Great. “Quick and convenient options that combine vegetables with kid-friendly flavors, such as chocolate, can help ensure kids are getting their daily servings of veggies in a familiar format kids love.”
This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 American parents of school-age kids (ages 5–17) was commissioned by Veggies Made Great between Feb. 21 and Feb. 22, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).