Previous research has highlighted that forced eating might lead to a long-lasting food rejection. Vegetables are the most common subject of forced eating due to their sensory bitterness, causing an instinct-guided rejection. Currently, unbalanced diet with insufficient vegetable consumption is being recognized, particularly among young adults. This problem appears to be associated with multi-dimensional factors but might also be related to experiences of forced eating.
This study aimed to explore the potential impacts of childhood experiences of forced eating on vegetable consumption among Korean young adults.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
An online survey was conducted from February 1824, 2020 among Korean young adults in their 20s. Out of 1277 responses, 461 (36.1%) responses reporting to have experienced forced eating were analyzed.
Descriptive statistics were calculated, and significant differences in vegetable consumption (ie, vegetable preference, vegetable acceptance, and perceived daily intake of vegetables) were measured according to experiences of forced eating.
Forced eating occurred mostly when they were elementary school students (57.2%), and preschool children (21.2%). It happened mostly frequently at home (51.0%), followed by schools (26.5%). Respondents mostly identified parents (50.1%), followed by school teachers (26.0%) as authority figures involved in forced eating. Approximately 41.0% of them were still not able to eat the target foods of forced eating, and 44.2% acknowledged its negative impacts on their current dietary habits. Among the target foods of forced eating, vegetables were most prevalent (57.9%). Vegetable preference, vegetable acceptance, and perceived daily intake of vegetables tended to be significantly lower when they had experiences of forced eating.
This study implies that childhood experiences of forced eating could make negative impacts on future dietary habits related to vegetable consumption. Despite some limitations, it may shed light on the importance and necessity of preventing forced eating during childhood and intervening its negative impacts on dietary habits.