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Learning to like vegetables: the importance of exposure in the food preference development of preschool children

Ahern, Sara Marie (2013) Learning to like vegetables: the importance of exposure in the food preference development of preschool children. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Despite a 5-a-day recommendation many children do not consume sufficient fruits and vegetables, with vegetable intake particularly low. Children’s strong dislike for vegetables is a barrier to intake (Nicklaus, Boggio, Chabanet & Issanchou, 2005; Zeinstra, Koelen, Kok, & de Graaf, 2007) indicating a need to develop strategies that will help children to develop the necessary preferences. Research has suggested that increasing children’s familiarity with vegetables through repeated experience is crucial in enhancing preferences. The current thesis used quantitative and qualitative methods to explore children’s earliest experiences with vegetables in order to identify critical periods and factors that impact upon liking and intake. Using experimental methods it then examined the effectiveness of strategies currently being employed by parents to promote vegetables in young children. The data presented confirms that familiarising children with a variety of vegetables via repeated taste exposure is fundamental in increasing children’s preference for and intake of novel vegetables. Results suggest that the effects of experience are mediated by age, supporting the idea of a ‘sensitive period’ during which children are more receptive to new tastes. The onset of food neophobia in the preschool years appears to limit the effects of repeated exposure but significant increases in consumption are observed. A theoretical model of children’s vegetable intake contributes to understanding of food preference development and highlights a need to focus interventions on children who might be more resistant to the effects of exposure.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
ISBN: 978-0-85731-808-4
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Medicine and Health (Leeds) > Institute of Psychological Sciences (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.617152
Depositing User: Repository Administrator
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2014 15:24
Last Modified: 06 Oct 2016 14:42
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/6900

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