Putting liked and disliked food on same plate could see both rejected

Putting a favourite food on the same plate as a disliked food could lead to your child refusing to eat both, say researchers


Like most parents, you’ve probably tried cajoling your child to eat brussel sprouts or another unpopular food alongside his favourite food. Well, it may not be such a great idea…


Encouraging your child to eat foods he doesn’t like by presenting them next to foods he does enjoy could backfire – and lead to him screwing his nose up at both, say researchers after conducting a very small study.

Psychologist Steve Brown from the University of Derby studied 18 toddlers aged 18-26 months to see how the avoidance of new food in children (food neophobia) develops.

“We found a significant number of the children rejected the food they usually liked when it was touching a food they didn’t like,” said Steve.

“Many of these children continued to refuse the ‘contaminated’ liked food until it had been exchanged for a new piece,” Steve added.

Researchers said the results support the idea that toddlers as young as 18 months have a strong contamination response, which may reflect feelings of disgust. This was not previously thought to influence food rejection until around 7 years of age.

“This could be one of the bases of this reduction in the variety of foods a child will eat,” Steve explained.


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