Do children really eat what they like? Relationships between liking and intake across laboratory test-meals

Kathleen L. Keller, Catherine Shehan, Terri Cravener, Haley Schlechter, John E. Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Liking plays a primary role in determining what and how much children eat. Despite this, the relationship between liking and intake of foods and beverages served as part of a meal is not often reported, even though pediatric feeding studies frequently collect such data. In addition, few studies have reported on the test-retest reliability of both hedonic ratings and laboratory intake among children. To address these gaps, this study was designed to assess the relationship between children's liking of items at a meal and subsequent intake. 61, 4-6 year-olds were recruited to participate in two identical laboratory sessions where liking of 7 foods (i.e., chicken nuggets, ketchup, potato chips, grapes, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, cookie) and 2 beverages (i.e., fruit punch, milk) was assessed (5-point hedonic scale) prior to ad libitum consumption of the same items at a meal. Spearman's correlations tested the relationship between liking and intake and intra-class correlations assessed inter-session reliability of both measures. Liking for potato chips (p < 0.01), grapes (p < 0.05), cherry tomatoes (p < 0.001), and fruit punch (p < 0.001) was positively associated with amount consumed, but no associations were found between liking and intake of other meal items. For the majority of meal items, test-retest reliability of liking and intake were significant (ranging from 0.34 for cookies to 0.93 for tomatoes). At a multi-component meal, children's hedonic ratings were both reliable and modestly predictive of subsequent intake, and the relationships were stronger for lower energy, less well-liked foods. Rather than eating what they like, these data are more consistent with the notion that children do not eat what they dislike.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105946
JournalAppetite
Volume172
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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