Fruit and vegetable consumption in children and their mothers. Moderating effects of child sensory sensitivity

Appetite. 2009 Apr;52(2):410-5. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2008.11.015. Epub 2008 Dec 6.


A cross-sectional study was carried out to ascertain the relative contribution of food neophobia and taste sensitivity to the amount of fruit and vegetables consumed in a typical day by 73, 2-5-year-old children attending nurseries in the South Birmingham area, UK. Sensory processing, parental control, child food neophobia and fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption of both mothers and children were measured. Parental and child FV consumption in the sample were positively associated (p<0.001). Moderated regression analyses showed that taste/smell sensitivity, but not food neophobia or tactile sensitivity, moderated the relationship between maternal and child FV consumption. In particular, children who were sensitive to taste/smell stimuli ate fewer fruit and vegetables, regardless of their mothers FV consumption. This finding implies that those children, who are sensitive to taste/smell stimuli, may be less likely to model maternal FV consumption. For these children, a more gradual route to encouraging acceptance, with attention to small sensory changes in foods, may be necessary to increase FV consumption.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior Therapy*
  • Beverages
  • Child
  • Fabaceae
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Mothers
  • Odorants
  • Phobic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Taste / physiology*
  • Vegetables*