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Understanding the association between children's emotions and children's food-related decisions may provide insights in understanding children's food preferences. However, exclusive reliance on parents reports of their children's eating behaviors provides inadequate information. If preschoolers are questioned appropriately, they offer reliable and meaningful information. Therefore, engaging children directly to understand their both positive and negative food-related decisions is an important step to better understand children's food preferences.
The primary objectives of the study were to explore: preschoolers’ anticipation when trying a new food and preschoolers’ past experiences with food they like and do not like.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
Researchers conducted a 3-step process, including Food and Children's Emotions (FACE) picture book training on emotions and 2 interviews with questions about preschoolers’ anticipation of new food and preschoolers’ previous experience with food. Interviews were conducted with 34 preschoolers (4-5 years old) from low-income families in North Carolina.
Qualitative interviews were evaluated using thematic analysis to identify themes related to children's food-related perspectives.
Three major themes were found: preschoolers' avoidance techniques; predictors behind preschoolers’ food-related emotions; and preschoolers’ description of their food preferences. Preschoolers were able to express their emotions associated with trying a new food and food they had eaten in the past. Disgust was the most reported emotion for children with negative anticipation and children who were discussing a food they do not like. Contrarily, happy was the most reported emotion for children with positive anticipation and children who were expressing their emotions about a food they like.
Preschoolers discussed positive and negative food-related emotions. Allowing children to discuss their emotions about food could be a useful strategy when adapting interventions aimed at improving children's food preferences and diet quality.
© 2021 Published by Elsevier Inc.