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J Nutr Educ Behav. 2012 Nov-Dec;44(6):639-43. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2011.01.012. Epub 2011 Sep 8.

Familiarizing with toy food: preliminary research and future directions.

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  • 1Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, ON, Canada.



A qualitative content analysis of children and parents interacting with toy food in their homes in view of recommendations for developing healthful food preferences.


YouTube videos (n = 101) of children and parents interacting in toy kitchen settings were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Toy food was categorized under 5 food groups, and interactions were compared to literature on developing healthful food preferences in children in real life.


The most popular food group represented by the toys was Extras, followed by Fruits/Vegetables, Meats/Alternatives, Grains, and Milk/Dairy. Many parents were also found to encourage behaviors not conducive to healthful food preference development in children.


Future research needs to determine whether familiarization with toy food influences children's real-life food preferences. Nutrition education programs for young children and parents could greatly benefit from future research on this approach. Exploring novel ways of developing children's food preferences is well warranted.

Copyright © 2012 Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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