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Parents’ experiences with hiding vegetables as a strategy for improving children's diets

Melanie Pescud (School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia)
Simone Pettigrew (Health Promotion Evaluation Unit, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 25 November 2014




The purpose of this paper is to explore the practice of hiding vegetables among low socioeconomic parents.


A qualitative longitudinal study involving 37 low socioeconomic Australian parents with at least one overweight or obese child aged five to nine years. Data were obtained with the use of interviews, focus groups, and self-introspections.


Identified issues relating to the practice of hiding vegetables included: how parents manage hiding vegetables, children's presence in the kitchen during vegetable preparation, the employment of deception when hiding vegetables, the use of cookbooks and blogs, and the alternative views of parents not strongly in favour of hiding vegetables.

Research limitations/implications

Hiding vegetables is a practice used by some parents to increase their children's vegetable intake. Children who are unaware of hidden vegetables in their meals are potentially missing the opportunity to develop an appreciation for vegetables and learn about vegetable preparation and cooking.

Practical implications

The findings are relevant to dietitians, general practitioners, and other health professionals providing advice to parents on appropriate child-feeding strategies.


This appears to be the first study to provide an in-depth account of low socioeconomic parents’ use of hiding vegetables to facilitate higher levels of vegetable consumption.



This work was supported by Healthway (18919). The authors gratefully acknowledge the commitment and effort of the parents who participated in the research project.


Pescud, M. and Pettigrew, S. (2014), "Parents’ experiences with hiding vegetables as a strategy for improving children's diets", British Food Journal, Vol. 116 No. 12, pp. 1853-1863.



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