Recent research published in the journal Appetite found that preschool children prefer the tastes of salt, sugar and fat and they equate these taste preferences to specific brand foods.
The study focused on 3 to 5 year old children who responded to how tasty they found specific foods, both familiar “natural” (fruits and vegetables) and familiar “flavor-added” foods (soda, chips, etc.); children preferred the processed foods. The second portion of the study found that recognition of fast food and soda brands is linked to the development of a preference for sugar, fat and salt. Since taste preference develops at home, these results suggest that when parents frequently expose children to processed and convenience foods, children develop a taste specifically for those choices.
Particularly in light of the current obesity epidemic, these data stress the importance of offering healthful choices to children from the beginning, so as taste preferences develop, preferences are developed for healthier choices. Indeed, infants start solids by eating plain foods – cereals, vegetables, fruit, and meats. As infants grow into children, it is just as important to continue offering these healthful choices and not adding unnecessary sugar, fat and salt. Helping your children eat well starts by repeatedly offering fruits and vegetables from the beginning!