More than 60 pct of toddlers not getting enough fruit and vegetables, study reveals

The largest study of its kind has revealed just how bad our toddlers' diets are. 

The Growing Up in NZ study has found more than 60 percent of our toddlers aren't getting enough vegetables, and almost half aren't getting enough fruit. 

One-and-half-year-old Ezra loves his food and chicken is his favourite.  

But like any toddler starting to find his own voice he can also turn the dinner table into a battleground for mum, Anja Work.

"Sometimes he absolutely loves carrots and other days he's like what is this poison?" Work said.

Work offers Ezra fruit and vegetables at every meal but isn't sure if he quite eats enough of it. 

It's a question raised by the Growing up in NZ study that followed almost 7000 Kiwi toddlers and there was an alarming discovery about our two-year-olds. 

"Sixty-one percent weren't consuming the adequate recommendation for vegetable intake," Professor Clare Wall told Newshub.

Almost half weren't getting enough fruit. 

For fruit, toddlers need about two pieces, say an apple and a banana, and they need about a cup of cooked veggies over the whole day. 

It's important because toddler diets influence their future weight, disease and immunity. 

Getting it right from the start can be difficult, with the cost of healthy food a barrier.

"I think we'd eat a lot better if we could afford it, ya know?" Work said.

Fruit alternatives like pureed pouches are also a problem as studies have found they're too high in sugar. 

"They may contain some derivatives of fruit or fruit purees, but it's nothing like consuming the real thing," Prof Wall said.

The authors want tighter marketing rules and GST removed from fruit and veg.

But the researcher behind a separate study has a tip for parents to give their child a taste for vegetables when they first start eating - delay feeding them fruit. 

"Babies need more encouragement to accept vegetables over fruit, they have an innate preference for sweet foods," nutrition researcher Jeanette Rapson told Newshub.

By nine months old, the babies who'd been introduced to vegetables only would eat double the amount of broccoli and spinach than those who also had fruit. 

It's one way to mould our kids' palates and set up their diet for future health.