Children’s perceptions of child-friendly shaped fruit and vegetable snacks: are they seen as more fun and appealing?

Sibylle Kranz, Selena Baker, Sean McCabe, Susan E. Swithers, Colin R Payne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

Background The nutrients provided by fruits and vegetables are essential for optimal growth and development, yet fruits and vegetables continue to be under-consumed by most children. Children’s liking of foods is a primary predictor of intake, suggesting that increasing children’s liking of fruits and vegetables may serve as an initial step toward increasing their consumption. The objective of this study was to determine if healthy fruit and vegetable (FV) snacks presented in child-friendly (CF) shapes were perceived as more fun and therefore better liked by children, as compared to FV snacks offered in regular shapes. Methods Convenience sample recruited in a local shopping mall and two large grocery stores. Children (n=365) participated in a survey and both children and adults completed an optional taste-test of apples, cucumbers, cantaloupe, and sweet potatoes offered either in regular shapes (small chunks and slices) or in CF shapes (butterfly, chick, flower and teddy bear). Results Data indicated that CF-shaped FV snack samples were 34.2% more likely to be selected than their regular-shaped versions (OR 1.342, 95% CI 1.024 – 1.760, p<0.033). Children perceived the shape of CF-shaped fruits and vegetables as more fun than that of regular-shaped fruits and vegetables (p<0.001). Children’s ratings of the appearance, taste and texture of the FV snacks were high, (lsmean ± SE ≥4.35 ± 0.08) but ratings were not significantly different between CF- and regular-shaped samples. Conclusions Results suggest that the shape of FV snacks may play a role in children’s perception of these foods as being “fun” and may encourage children to try (and eat) those foods; however, future research is needed to explore the size, color, and shapes that are most likely to also increase the liking and consumption of healthy snack foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
Original languageEnglish
Article number006
Number of pages6
JournalBAOJ Nutrition
Volume1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2015

Keywords

  • Fun-Shaped Foods
  • Fruit and Vegetable Intake
  • Snacks

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