Increasing children's acceptance of vegetables; a randomized trial of parent-led exposure

Appetite. 2003 Apr;40(2):155-62. doi: 10.1016/s0195-6663(02)00135-6.


Despite considerable epidemiological evidence of the health benefits of a diet high in fruit and vegetables, consumption in pre-school children remains well below recommended levels. This study evaluated the effectiveness of an exposure-based intervention, carried out by parents in the home, in increasing children's liking for a previously disliked vegetable. 156 parents of 2-6 year old children were randomly assigned to Exposure, Information or Control groups after a pre-intervention taste test at which a 'target' vegetable was selected. Parents in the Exposure group gave their child a taste of this vegetable daily for 14 days, parents in the Information group were given nutritional advice and a leaflet, and parents in the Control group received no further intervention. All participants took part in a post-intervention taste test. Greater increases in liking, ranking and consumption of the 'target' vegetable from pre- to post-intervention occurred in the Exposure group than in either of the other two groups. Only the Exposure group showed significant increases across all three outcomes. It can be concluded that a parent-led, exposure-based intervention involving daily tasting of a vegetable holds promise for improving children's acceptance of vegetables. These findings suggest a parental advice strategy which could be disseminated directly to parents or by health professionals.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Phobic Disorders
  • Taste
  • Vegetables*