The first article in this edition of the newsletter explores the widely replicated
The first article in this edition of the newsletter explores the widely replicated, but poorly understood finding of sex differences in children’s consumption of fruit and vegetables (FV). Using data from the Fruit and Vegetables Make the Marks study, Elling Bere and colleagues identified greater preference for, and perceived availability of FV as the principal determinants of girls’ higher intake.
There are also age differences in children’s responses to food and our second article describes qualitative research into the relationship between children’s cognitive development and their food preferences and perceptions (Zeinstra et al). The authors found that younger children were more concerned with the texture and appearance of food whereas older children were more influenced by taste. They further report that children of all ages were largely impervious to appeals to eat “healthily”. Finally Privitera reports on research into the efficacy of ‘flavourreinforcement’ learning in increasing liking. Not only were children’s preferences increased when foods were sweetened but effects persisted long after sweetening ceased.
Together, the articles in the current issue highlight some factors to consider when devising interventions – that boys are predisposed to like FV less than girls (Bere) that influences on food likes and dislikes differ with age (Zeinstra et al) and that an effective practical strategy for increasing liking for FV may be to add sweeteners (Zeinstra). Since children’s FV intake still falls well below recommended levels in most countries, these research findings are important and timely.