Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Preschool kids know what they like: Salt, sugar and fat

Date:
January 26, 2011
Source:
University of Oregon
Summary:
A child's taste preferences begin at home and most often involve salt, sugar and fat. And, researchers say, young kids learn quickly what brands deliver the goods.

A child's taste preferences begin at home and most often involve salt, sugar and fat. And, researchers say, young kids learn quickly what brands deliver the goods.

In a study of preschoolers ages 3 to 5, involving two separate experiments, researchers found that salt, sugar and fat are what kids most prefer -- and that these children already could equate their taste preferences to brand-name fast-food and soda products.

In a world where salt, sugar and fat have been repeatedly linked to obesity, waiting for children to begin school to learn how to make wise food choices is a poor decision, says T. Bettina Cornwell, a professor of marketing in the University of Oregon Lundquist College of Business. Children even are turning to condiments to add these flavors -- and with them calories -- to be sure that the foods they eat match their taste preferences.

"Our findings present a public policy message," Cornwell said. "If we want to pursue intervention, we probably need to start earlier." Parents, she said, need to seriously consider the types of foods they expose their young children to at home and in restaurants. "Repeated exposure builds taste preferences."

Cornwell and co-author Anna R. McAlister, a consumer science researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, involved both developmental psychology and marketing for the two-part study. It appeared online in January ahead of regular publication in the journal Appetite.

In the first experiment, 67 children (31 boys, 36 girls) and their mothers were recruited from pre-school classes in a large city. The mothers completed a 21-item survey to report on their taste preferences of their children. The children responded to their perceived tastiness of 11 natural and 11 flavor-added foods. The photos of the foods were presented without labeling or packaging. Researchers found strong agreement in that both parental and children's perceptions matched: Parents noted the desire for foods high in sugar, fat and salt, while their children showed preference for flavor-added foods, which contained these ingredients.

Foods well within the preschoolers' experience were presented in the experiment. Natural foods included apples, bananas, plain milk, fruit salad, water, green beans and tomatoes (strawberries and watermelon were the top picks; flavor-added foods included such things as cheese puffs, corn chips, watermelon hard candy, jellybeans, banana soft candy, ketchup, colas and chocolate milk (strawberry ice cream and jellybeans scored the highest).

In the second experiment, researchers explored the association of preschoolers' palate preferences to their emerging awareness of brands of fast foods and sugar-sweetened beverages. Participating were 108 children (54 boys, 54 girls) from five urban pre-schools. Each child was shown 36 randomly sorted cards -- 12 related to each of two popular fast-food chains, six to each of the two leading cola companies and six depicting irrelevant products. All children were able to correctly place some of the product cards with the correct companies, indicating their differing levels of brand recognition.

The results, the researcher wrote, "suggest that fast food and soda brand knowledge is linked to the development of a preference for sugar, fat and salt in food." The relationships, they added, appeared to reflect the children's emotional experiences in a way that says the brand-named products deliver their developed taste preferences.

It may well be, Cornwall said, that when parents repeatedly serve certain foods, their children acquire a taste for them and soon recognized what brands deliver that taste. Earlier research has shown that children given red peppers on 10 different occasions will acquire a taste for red peppers and that logic extends to other foods. Children served French fries will, in turn, develop a preference for French fries.

Fighting childhood obesity, Cornwell says, should begin at home. First, families should focus on reducing the consumption of low-nutrient "junk" foods and replacing them with increased servings of healthy foods. Such an approach, the researchers noted in their conclusion, moves away from issues of weight and dieting -- instead targeting the development of tastes preferences.

In a previous paper in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Cornwell and McAlister found that children begin to understand persuasion as early as age three and most develop this sense by age six. They argued that advertising targeting children should be monitored and regulated.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Oregon. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. T. Bettina Cornwell, Anna R. McAlister. Alternative thinking about starting points of obesity. Development of child taste preferences. Appetite, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2011.01.010
  2. Anna R McAlister, T. Bettina Cornwell. Preschool Children's Persuasion Knowledge: The Contribution of Theory of Mind. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 2009; 28 (2): 175 DOI: 10.1509/jppm.28.2.175

Cite This Page:

University of Oregon. "Preschool kids know what they like: Salt, sugar and fat." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110125091834.htm>.
University of Oregon. (2011, January 26). Preschool kids know what they like: Salt, sugar and fat. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110125091834.htm
University of Oregon. "Preschool kids know what they like: Salt, sugar and fat." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110125091834.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins