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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003 Feb;57(2):341-8.

Modifying children's food preferences: the effects of exposure and reward on acceptance of an unfamiliar vegetable.

Author information

  • 1Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Unit, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK. j.wardle@ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The aim of this study was to evaluate two interventions (one reward-based and one exposure-based) for increasing children's acceptance of an unfamiliar vegetable compared with a no-treatment control. It was predicted that the exposure condition would increase liking for, and consumption of, the vegetable relative to either the reward or control group.

DESIGN:

Using a randomized controlled design, participants were assigned to one of two intervention groups (exposure or reward) or to a no-treatment control condition, for a 2 week period. Liking for, and consumption of, red pepper was assessed before and after the treatment period.

SETTING:

The study was conducted in three primary schools in London.

SUBJECTS:

Parental consent was obtained for 49 out of a possible 72 children.

INTERVENTIONS:

Interventions comprised eight daily sessions during which participants in the exposure group were offered a taste of sweet red pepper and told that they could eat as much as they liked. Participants in the reward group were shown a sheet of cartoon stickers and told that they could choose one of them on condition that they ate at least one piece of the pepper.

RESULTS:

The exposure-based intervention significantly increased both liking (P=0.006) and consumption (P=0.03) compared with the control group. The outcome of the reward intervention was intermediate and did not differ significantly from the exposure or control conditions.

CONCLUSIONS:

Repeated exposure to the taste of unfamiliar foods is a promising strategy for promoting liking of previously rejected foods in children.

PMID:
12571670
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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