This quasiexperimental study used a within-subjects experimental design to determine whether adding herbs and/or spices to a reduced-fat dip increased children's willingness to taste, liking of, and consumption of vegetables. Participants were preschool children aged 3 to 5 years who attended a child-care center in Central Pennsylvania in late 2008 and early 2009. First, children's familiarity with and liking of six raw vegetables and five dips (reduced-fat plain, herb, garlic, pizza, and ranch) were assessed. In Experiment 1 (n=34), children tasted a vegetable they liked, one they disliked, and one they refused, with a reduced-fat plain dip and their favorite reduced-fat herb-flavored dip. In Experiment 2 (n=26 or n=27), they rated their liking of celery and yellow squash, with and without their favorite reduced-fat herb dip (pizza or ranch), and their intake of those vegetable snacks was measured. In Experiment 1, the herb-flavored dip was preferred over the plain dip (P < 0.01), and children were three times more likely to reject the vegetable alone, compared with eating the vegetable paired with an herb dip (P < 0.001). In Experiment 2, children ate significantly more of a previously rejected or disliked vegetable (celery and squash) when offered with a preferred reduced-fat herb dip than when the vegetable was served alone (P < 0.05). These findings suggest that offering vegetables with reduced-fat dips containing familiar herb and spice flavors can increase tasting and thereby promote liking, acceptance, and consumption of vegetables, including vegetables previously rejected or disliked.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Nutrition and Dietetics