Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Ecology

Document Type



Children’s food preferences play a major role in their food choices and consumption. The objectives of these studies were to examine the relationship between children’s preferences for fruits and vegetables (FV) and their weight status and to increase children’s liking of FV by offering repeated opportunities to taste less liked items. A representative sample of elementary school children (1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades) were recruited in the three interventions. In the first study, 341 fourth- and fifth-grade children (43% boys; 68% 4th graders) were measured for height and weight and completed a survey which sought their preferences for 38 different FV. Children who reported a very low preference for FV were 5.5 times more likely to be categorized as at risk for overweight or overweight than were those who reported a high preference for FV. A total of 360 fourth and fifth graders (45% boys; 62% 4th graders) participated in the second study and were offered a taste of carrots, peas, tomatoes, and bell peppers once a week for 10 weeks. For children who began the program disliking the vegetables, repeated tasting improved liking scores for carrots, peas, and tomatoes but not for bell peppers. The number of children who reported liking for previously disliked vegetables was greater after eight or nine taste exposures. In the third study, a total of 379 first-, third-, and fifth-grade students (51% boys; 32% 1st graders and 32% 3rd graders) were offered a taste of four vegetables (bell peppers, carrots, peas and tomatoes) or four fruits (apricots, cantaloupe, peaches and pears) twice a week on alternate weeks for eight weeks and asked to record their liking for each item. An average of five tastes of vegetables and two tastes of fruits were required to observe a change in liking scores. For children who began the program disliking these FV, liking scores for all eight items tasted improved at the end of the intervention and were maintained at the later two follow-up assessments. Repeated taste exposure to less liked FV is a promising strategy to promote liking of these items by elementary school-age children.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Tuuri, Georgianna



Included in

Human Ecology Commons