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Appetite. 2015 Jan;84:1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.08.040. Epub 2014 Sep 10.

Exposure to foods' non-taste sensory properties. A nursery intervention to increase children's willingness to try fruit and vegetables.

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School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading, Earley Gate, Whiteknights, Reading, RG6 6AL, UK.
School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading Malaysia, Menara Kotaraya, Level 7, Jalan Trus, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Electronic address:


Activities that engage young children with the sensory properties of foods are popular with nursery schools, despite the lack of evidence for their efficacy in increasing children's consumption of healthy foods. This study provides the first empirical exploration of the effectiveness of a non-taste sensory activity program in a nursery school setting. Ninety-two children aged between 12 and 36 months were allocated either to an intervention group, who took part in looking, listening, feeling and smelling activities with unusual fruits and vegetables every day for 4 weeks, or to a non-intervention control group. In a subsequent mealtime taste test, children touched and tasted more of the vegetables to which they had been familiarized in their playtime activities than of a matched set of non-exposed foods. The results demonstrate that hands-on activities with unfamiliar fruits and vegetables can enhance children's willingness to taste these foods, and confirm the potential for such activities to support healthy eating initiatives.


Food familiarity; Fruit and vegetables; Nursery intervention; Repeated exposure; Sensory interaction

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