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Increasing Knowledge and Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables in Children: Does the Type of Exposure Matter?

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Author: Osborne, Chelsea
Advisor: Forestell, Catherine A.
Committee Members: Dallaire, Danielle H.; Jackson, Erica M.
Issued Date: 2009-05-04
Subjects: Flavor Development
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10288/1163
Description: This study sought to determine how an eight-day home exposure to health information and/or a variety of fruits and vegetables would affect 4- to 8-year-old children's knowledge about and willingness to try healthy foods. Using a 2 x 2 x 2 mixed design, 40 children were randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups, which differed according to the type of home exposure they received. Half of the children were sent home with books about healthy eating (Book Group), while the remaining children did not receive books (No Book Group). These groups were further broken down according to whether they received a variety of healthy foods to try at home (Food Group) or not (No Food Group). Before and after the home exposure period, children's knowledge of these foods was tested in a laboratory setting using simple card games, in which children were asked to identify and categorize pictures of various foods. This was followed by a buffet task, which measured their willingness to eat a range of foods. Mothers reported on their children's neophobia and daily food consumption in order to determine how these constructs affected children's responses to the foods over the course of the experiment. Results indicated that, overall, children who were more food neophobic consumed less healthy foods at home, were less knowledgeable about healthy foods, and were less likely to try and to consume the foods presented during the buffet before and after the home exposure. Children who were exposed to information generally increased their knowledge but not their consumption of the healthy foods, while those who were exposed to food over the home exposure period were less likely to try and to consume novel foods in the buffet. These findings demonstrate the challenges involved in enhancing children's fruit and vegetable consumption and highlight the need for research to investigate the efficacy of intervention strategies that promote healthy eating in young children.
Degree: Bachelors of Science in Psychology

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