Play with your food! Sensory play is associated with tasting of fruits and vegetables in preschool children
The objective of the current study was to ascertain whether taking part in a sensory play activity with real fruits and vegetables (FV) can encourage tasting in preschool children, compared to a non-food activity or visual exposure to the activity. Three to four year old pre-school children (N = 62) were recruited from three preschool nursery classes from a school in Northamptonshire, UK. A between participants experimental study was conducted with each class assigned to one of three conditions; sensory FV play, sensory non-food play and visual FV exposure. Parental report of several baseline variables were taken; child baseline liking of the foods used in the study, parental and child FV consumption (portions/day), child neophobia and child tactile sensitivity. Outcome measures were the number of fruits and vegetables tasted in a post experiment taste test which featured (n = 5) or did not feature (n = 3) in the task. Analyses of covariance controlling for food neophobia and baseline liking of foods, showed that after the activity children in the sensory FV play condition tried more FV than both children in the non-food sensory play task (p < 0.001) and children in the visual FV exposure task (p < 0.001). This was true not only for five foods used in the activity (p < 0.001), but also three foods that were not used in the activity (p < 0.05). Sensory play activities using fruits and vegetables may encourage FV tasting in preschool children more than non food play or visual exposure alone. Long term intervention studies need to be carried out to see if these effects can be sustained over time.
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Citation : Coulthard, H. and Sealy, A. (2017) Play with your food! Sensory play is associated with tasting of fruits and vegetables in preschool children. Appetite, 113, pp. 84-90
Research Group : Health Psychology
Research Institute : Institute for Psychological Science
Peer Reviewed : Yes