Enjoyment, a lever to encourage fruit and vegetables consumption


Insufficient consumption of fruit and vegetables is a major public health concern. Their health benefits in noncommunicable diseases prevention are largely well-know and proven by scientific evidence (Aune et al., 2017 ; WHO, 2003). Yet, their intake remains below the WHO recommendations (at least 400 g of fruit and vegetables per day). In 2019, 33% of European (aged 15 and over) reported not consuming any fruit or vegetables daily and only 12% of the population consumed the recommended 5 portions or more daily (Eurostat, 2022). Encouraging fruit and vegetables consumption is therefore essential.

To this end, various levers and initiatives emphasizing their health benefits, and based on fun, sensory, practical, community-based, etc. have been deployed. Liking and enjoyment is a well-reported determinant of fruit and vegetables consumption (Ramsay et al., 2017 ; Appleton et al., 2019). Strategies to develop liking and preferences for fruit and vegetables tastes are largely relying on familiarization and conditioning principles (Nicklaus et al., 2016 ; Appleton et al., 2018).

This month, the Global Fruit and Vegetables Newsletter focus on the role of enjoyment as a lever to increase fruit and vegetables consumption, with three recent articles.

The effectiveness of enjoyment in stimulating interest and desire, and thus in encouraging fruit consumption was proven in the first article (Appleton et al., 2023). In this work, two studies were conducted in young British adults. The first study investigated the effects on fruit consumption of visualizing eating fruit that was either liked and pleasant, not liked, or not associated with liking and sensory pleasure. The second study investigated the effects on fruit consumption of health promotion posters that featured either enjoyable or less enjoyable fruit. In the first study, higher intentions to consume fruit and more positive attitudes towards fruit were associated with higher likely enjoyment of the fruit visualized, higher fruit liking in general and higher fruit-related self-efficacy. Similar effects were observed in study 2 for likely enjoyment of the fruit featured on a poster; higher likely enjoyment also predicted greater immediate fruit selection.

The role of enjoyment in regulating energy intake was highlighted in the second article (Poquet et al., 2022). This study, conducted on 187 children in France, assessed the impact of a home-based pleasure-oriented intervention on the nutritional value of midafternoon snacks spontaneously consumed by children at home in their familial environment. According to this work, a lower caloric intake for midafternoon snacks and a lower energy intake were observed in children who received the hedonic intervention supposed to stimulate the pleasure of eating healthy foods.

The third article (Cox et al., 2023) is a position statement by the Vegetable Intake Strategic Alliance (VISA) outlines three key points of good practice for encouraging children to consume vegetables. The first key point is to shift emphasis from health to liking and enjoyment of vegetables. This shows the importance of making pleasure a tangible part of the deployment.

These three articles confirm that enjoyment has a large part in stimulating interest and desire of healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables, and in regulating energy and food intake. In addition, they stress the need to make enjoyment a tangible part when deploying initiatives to increase fruit and vegetables consumption.

Sandrine Monnery-Patris Child development and eating behavior researcher
Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l’Alimentation – INRAE, Dijon
About the autor

Sandrine Monnery-Patris is a researcher at the Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l’Alimentation – INRAE in Dijon, specializing in child development and eating behavior (Cognitive and Developmental Psychology).

To address the new challenges associated with diet (health, equality, sustainability), her research aims to understand the sensory, cognitive and social determinants of eating behavior from the earliest stage of childhood. The aim is to identify and act on the determinants of consumption through the design of new interventions based on sensory, commensal and symbolic pleasure, to support eaters in making healthier and more environmentally-friendly choices. Her research include the study of ‘new’ behaviours in line with societal evolutions, with the aim of improving the health and well-being of all eaters in an inclusive and dignified way, towards healthier, more sustainable diets that are a source of pleasure and social solidarity.

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