A prospective study of food variety seeking in childhood, adolescence and early adult life

Appetite. 2005 Jun;44(3):289-97. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2005.01.006. Epub 2005 Apr 19.


This prospective study of food variety seeking among children was conducted between 1982 and 1999, with a follow-up in 2001-2002. Two- to three-year-old children were given a free choice of lunch foods in a nursery canteen. Their food choices were recorded and used to calculate early variety seeking scores, globally and by food group (vegetables, animal products, dairy products, starchy foods and combined dishes). The same subjects (n=339) were contacted in 2001-2002, when they were: 17-22 (n=89), 13-16 (n=68), 8-12 (n=99) and 4-7 years of age (n=83). Follow-up variety seeking, globally and by food group, and food neophobia were evaluated using questionnaire instruments. Variety seeking at follow-up increased with early variety seeking and to a lesser extent with age, and decreased with food neophobia. Early and follow-up variety seeking scores were highly related for dairy products and vegetables. Follow-up variety seeking for animal products was higher for boys and increased with age for boys, but not for girls. For each food group, variety seeking at follow-up was related to food neophobia. This study suggests that the acquisition of food repertoire may be influenced by food exposure and food choice behaviours before the age of 4.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dairy Products
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Food Preferences*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat
  • Phobic Disorders
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Vegetables