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Appetite. 2009 Feb;52(1):253-5. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2008.09.018. Epub 2008 Oct 2.

Development of food variety in children.

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INRA, UMR 1129 FLAVIC, 17 rue Sully, BP 86510, F-21000 Dijon, France.


Eating a variety of foods is essential to achieve adequate coverage of macro- and micronutrient needs. We expose here how eating habits for a variety of foods develop in childhood, from early infancy on. Preferences for specific flavours might develop early, through milk-related flavour exposures. Breastfeeding favours the acquisition of a taste for a variety of foods. At introduction of solid foods, food preferences develop thanks to repeated exposures to a variety of foods. The persistence of these early influences is still unknown. During the third year of life, most children enter a neophobic phase during which previously liked foods are no longer accepted and introduction of new foods becomes difficult. However, habits of eating a variety of foods acquired before the neophobic phase track further on into childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. This underlines the importance of promoting the access to a variety of foods in early childhood. However, beyond the nutritional advantage of eating a varied diet, could this present any drawbacks? Providing a variety of foods generally stimulates food intake and thereby might favour obesity. More research is needed to understand the link between variety and obesity, which might be food-group dependant.

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