Think ALL children are predisposed to preferring foods with sugar, salt and fat? Think again.

New Research shows:

  • German and Spanish kids are twice as likely to prefer high fat foods than kids in Cyprus and Belgium.
  • Hungarian, Spanish and Estonian children have a preference for fat, salt and umami (savory), espcially when compared to Swedish, Belgium and Italian children.
  • German children are less likely to prefer sweet juice than Swedish, Italian and Hungarian children.

Want to know something else?

Country was the strongest predictor of taste preference.

That means, culture impacts taste preferences more than:

  • Breastfeeding vs formula
  • Age at which fruit is introduced
  • Television viewing
  • Whether or not parents use food as a reward
  • Taste sensitivity

Want to know something else?

There are kids who aren’t familiar with apple juice.

The researchers couldn’t test the sweet preferences of the children in Cyprus because these kids were unfamiliar with apple juice (and the researchers wanted to use a standard sweet medium across the study).

How’d they do it?

Researchers maniuplated the level of sugar in apple juice, and the level of salt, fat and umami in crackers. Then, 1705 six to nine year old children were given paired tastings and asked to indicate which of the pair they liked best.

The study was conducted in Italy, Estonia, Cyprus, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Hungary and Spain.

You don’t need to move across the world to solve a picky-eating problem. You just have to establish a foreign culture at home.

Forget about feeding the American way, and start seriously rethinking what, when and why you offer the foods that you do.  Read Food Culture and What It Means to be “Child-Friendly.”

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Source: Lanfer, A., K. Bammann, K. Knof, K. Buchecker, P. Russo, T. Veidebaum, Y. Kourides, S. de Henauw, D. Molnar, S. Bel-Serrat, L. Lissner, and W. Ahrens. 2013. “Predictors and Correlates of Taste Preferences in European Children: the IDEFICS Study.” Food Quality and Preference 27: 128-36.