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Physiol Behav. 1990 Mar;47(3):501-5.

Conditioned flavor preferences in young children.

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Child Development Laboratory, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.


In this experiment 11 children participated in a series of 8 pairs of conditioning trials in order to investigate the hypothesis that children could form conditioned flavor preferences based on caloric density. Unfamiliar drink flavors were used in these trials, and the drinks were either high in caloric density (155 kcal/150 ml) or low (less than 5 kcal/150 ml). Caloric density was altered by the addition of low glucose maltodextrin. Each child always had the same caloric density/flavor pairing throughout the conditioning trials. Each trial pair included one high and one low density preload, followed by ad lib consumption. These conditioning trials substituted for the children's regularly scheduled morning snack four days per week, one trial per day. Conditioning trials were given as a series of two-part snacks, consisting of fixed volumes of initially unfamiliar drinks, followed by the opportunity to eat a variety of foods ad lib. Two measures, obtained before and after conditioning, provided evidence for the formation of conditioned flavor preferences: 1) preference assessments, and 2) two-flavor choice tests. In addition, the ad lib consumption data indicated that the children were responsive to the caloric density manipulation, by consistently eating more following the low than the high density drink. The potential contribution of such acquired flavor preferences to the reduction of neophobia is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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