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The Lasting Influences of Early Food-Related Variety Experience: A Longitudinal Study of Vegetable Acceptance from 5 Months to 6 Years in Two Populations

Abstract : Children's vegetable consumption falls below current recommendations, highlighting the need to identify strategies that can successfully promote better acceptance of vegetables. Recently, experimental studies have reported promising interventions that increase acceptance of vegetables. The first, offering infants a high variety of vegetables at weaning, increased acceptance of new foods, including vegetables. The second, offering an initially disliked vegetable at 8 subsequent meals markedly increased acceptance for that vegetable. So far, these effects have been shown to persist for at least several weeks. We now present follow-up data at 15 months, 3 and 6 years obtained through questionnaire (15 mo, 3y) and experimental (6y) approaches. At 15 months, participants who had been breast-fed were reported as eating and liking more vegetables than those who had been formula-fed. The initially disliked vegetable that became accepted after repeated exposure was still liked and eaten by 79% of the children. At 3 years, the initially disliked vegetable was still liked and eaten by 73% of the children. At 6 years, observations in an experimental setting showed that children who had been breast-fed and children who had experienced high vegetable variety at the start of weaning ate more of new vegetables and liked them more. They were also more willing to taste vegetables than formula-fed children or the no or low variety groups. The initially disliked vegetable was still liked by 57% of children. This follow-up study suggests that experience with chemosensory variety in the context of breastfeeding or at the onset of complementary feeding can influence chemosensory preferences for vegetables into childhood.
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Andrea Maier-Nöth, Benoist Schaal, Peter Leathwood, Sylvie Issanchou. The Lasting Influences of Early Food-Related Variety Experience: A Longitudinal Study of Vegetable Acceptance from 5 Months to 6 Years in Two Populations. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2016, 11 (3), pp.e0151356. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0151356⟩. ⟨hal-01400225⟩

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