Variety is the spice of life: strategies for promoting fruit and vegetable acceptance during infancy

Physiol Behav. 2008 Apr 22;94(1):29-38. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.11.014. Epub 2007 Nov 21.


The present manuscript describes two experimental studies that were conducted to explore the effects of an 8-day exposure to a particular food or a variety of foods between and/or within meals on fruit and vegetable acceptance in 74 infants. Whether the dietary experience modified acceptance depended on the flavors of foods experienced, whether the experience occurred between or within meals or both, and whether the target food was a fruit or vegetable. In the first study, we found that 8 days of dietary exposure to pears or a variety of fruits between meals (not including pears) resulted in greater consumption of pears by the infants but this increased acceptance did not generalize to green beans. In the second study, we found that 8 days of vegetable variety both between and within meals led to increased acceptance of green beans, carrots and spinach. Those infants who experienced green beans alone or a variety of vegetables between meals also tended to eat more green beans after the exposure. These findings suggest that not only can infants clearly discriminate flavors but repeated opportunities to taste a particular or a variety of foods may promote willingness to eat fruits and vegetables, the consumption of which is generally low in the pediatric population and the acceptance of which is difficult to enhance beyond toddlerhood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding
  • Daucus carota
  • Diet
  • Edible Grain
  • Fabaceae
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pyrus
  • Spinacia oleracea
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Taste
  • Temperament / physiology
  • Vegetables*