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Infant Child Dev. 2012;21(2):216-235. Epub 2011 Aug 8.

The role of external sources of information in children's evaluative food categories.

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Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina Wilmington.


Evaluative food categories are value-laden assessments which reflect the healthfulness and palatability of foods (e.g., healthy/unhealthy, yummy/yucky). In a series of three studies, this research examines how 3- to 4-year-old children (N = 147) form evaluative food categories based on input from external sources of information. The results indicate that children prefer to ask a mom and teacher over a cartoon and child for information about the evaluative status of foods. However, children are cautious to accept information about healthy foods from all of the external sources compared to unhealthy, yummy, and yucky foods. The results also indicate that providing information about the positive taste of healthy foods helps to encourage children to select healthy foods to eat. Taken together, these results have potential implications for children's health and nutrition education.

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