Currently, fewer than 15% of children between the ages of 4–8 years consume the recommended levels of fruit and vegetables. In order to address this serious public health issue, a variety of nutrition programs have been implemented across the United States which have varied in their success. The present research analyzed the effectiveness of providing fruit and vegetable exposure as part of a school nutrition program. Kindergarten students at two schools (N = 59) were exposed to interactive activities about healthy eating and physical activity. In addition, those at one school (n = 29) were exposed to a variety of fruits and vegetables as part of this program. Assessment of children's ability to identify and their willingness to try fruit and vegetables before and after the program indicated that while all children were better able to identify a range of fruit, only those who received exposure to healthful foods were more willing to try fruit after the program. There were no changes in their identification or willingness to eat vegetables. These results suggest that schools should provide exposure to a variety of healthy foods as part of their nutrition programs. Such programs should focus specifically on exposing children to vegetables because increasing children's willingness to try foods that are typically considered unpalatable may be especially challenging.
Schindler, Jennifer; Corbett, Denise; and Forestell, Catherine A., Assessing the Effect of Food Exposure on Children's Identification and Acceptance of Fruit and Vegetables (2013). Eating Behaviors, 14(1), 53-56.