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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Food neophobia and mealtime food consumption in 4–5 year old children

Lucy Cooke*, Susan Carnell and Jane Wardle

Author Affiliations

Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Unit, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, UK

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2006, 3:14  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-3-14

Published: 6 July 2006

Abstract

Background

Previous research has documented a negative association between maternal report of child food neophobia and reported frequency of consumption of fruit, vegetables, and meat. This study aimed to establish whether neophobia is associated with lower intake of these food types in naturalistic mealtime situations.

Methods

One hundred and nine parents of 4–5 year olds completed questionnaires which included a six-item version of the Child Food Neophobia Scale (CFNS). The children took part in a series of 3 test lunch meals at weekly intervals at school at which they were presented with: chicken, cheese, bread, cheese crackers, chocolate biscuits, grapes and tomatoes or carrot sticks. Food items served to each child were weighed before and after the meal to assess total intake of items in four categories: Fruit and vegetables, Protein foods, Starchy foods and Snack foods. Pearson Product Moment Correlations and independent t tests were performed to examine associations between scores on the CFNS and consumption during lunches.

Results

Neophobia was associated with lower consumption of fruit and vegetables, protein foods and total calories, but there was no association with intake of starch or snack foods.

Conclusion

These results support previous research that has suggested that neophobia impacts differentially on consumption of different food types. Specifically it appears that children who score highly on the CFNS eat less fruit, vegetables and protein foods than their less neophobic peers. Attempts to increase intake of fruit, vegetables and protein might usefully incorporate strategies known to reduce the neophobic response.