Exposure to foods’ non-taste sensory properties: a nursery intervention to increase children’s willingness to try fruit and vegetables

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Dazeley, Paul ; Houston-Price, Carmel (2015)
  • Publisher: Elsevier
  • Journal: Appetite (issn: 0195-6663, vol: 84, pp: 1-6)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.08.040
  • Subject: Psychology(all) | Nutrition and Dietetics

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 to either an intervention group, who took part in looking, listening, feeling and smelling activities with unusual fruits and vegetables every day for four 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.
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