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Pediatr Int. 2014 Jun;56(3):389-94. doi: 10.1111/ped.12276. Epub 2014 Apr 1.

Gender differences in childhood food preference: evaluation using a subjective picture choice method.

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  • 1Division of Women's and Children's Family Nursing, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Tottori University, Yonago, Japan; Department of Clinical Nursing, Faculty of Medicine, Shimane University, Izumo, Japan.



A preference for calorie-dense food in men seems to be closely linked with a considerably higher incidence of obesity in adulthood for men than women, but it is not clear in which life stage the gender differences in food preference begin to appear. In order to clarify this, a picture choice method has been developed that is designed to evaluate food preferences or interests in children based on their subjective choices.


In total, 486 children aged 6-12 years were enrolled. To evaluate food interest, children were instructed to choose any 10 from 36 pictures in the panel showing 10 different foods and 26 other things. The number of foods chosen was set as the food interest score. For food preference, they were also instructed to choose any 10 from 36 pictures in the other panel depicting 36 different foods. For the 10 foods chosen, Japanese food score, energy density, fat energy content, and saturated fatty acid score were calculated. These indices were compared for sex, age group and body mass index.


Indices reflecting food interest or fat preference were significantly higher in boys than girls both in the 7-9- and 10-12-year-old age groups. Positive correlations were found between food interest score and energy density, fat energy content, and saturated fatty acid score.


Using the picture choice method, definite gender differences in food preference were identified in early elementary school children. This information could be useful for dietary therapy in childhood obesity.

© 2013 The Authors. Pediatrics International © 2013 Japan Pediatric Society.


childhood; eating behavior; food preference; picture choice

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