Enjoyment of tactile play in preschool children is associated with food neophobia
Previous research has shown that parental reports of food neophobia and tactile sensitivity are associated with lower fruit and vegetable (F/V) intake in children. This study aimed to pilot a behavioral observation measure of tactile play in young children. The primary aim of the study was to see whether children’s enjoyment of tactile play was associated with higher F/V consumption, as well as lower food neophobia. Seventy 2- to 5-year-old children (37 males and 33 females) and their parents were recruited through children’s centers in the Leicester region of the United Kingdom during July to October 2012. Children’s engagement in two tactile play tasks using sticky foods (mashed potatoes and vegetarian gelatin) was observed and rated by both the researcher and parent. Parents were asked to complete a series of questionnaires measuring F/V consumption, food neophobia, and sensory processing. It was found that lower child food neophobia was significantly related to enjoyment of tactile play, whereas child F/V consumption was associated with parental F/V consumption, but not enjoyment of tactile play. The findings strengthen the idea that tactile processing may be associated with the acceptance of food variety, but not the total amount of F/V consumed. Additional research is indicated to determine whether tactile play tasks can be used to lower child food neophobia.
Citation : Coulthard, H. and Thakker, D. (2015) Enjoyment of tactile play in preschool children is associated with food neophobia. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.115 (7), pp. 1134-1140
Research Institute : Institute for Psychological Science
Peer Reviewed : Yes