Date Awarded

Summer 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.Sc.)




Catherine A Forestell

Committee Member

Danielle Dallaire

Committee Member

Meghan Quinn


The United States is currently facing a child obesity epidemic. One possible contributor to this epidemic is children’s low intake of healthful foods such as fruits and vegetables. In order to investigate factors associated with children’s low fruit and vegetable liking and acceptance, we recruited 150 children between the ages of 5 and 10 years of age (Mage = 92.47 mo. , 44.7% female). Based on previous research, we measured parental and child neophobia using adult and child versions of the food neophobia scale, and parents’ reports of children’s fruit and vegetable offered at home. Children completed two laboratory tasks. In the first task they were presented with pictures of fruits and vegetables and were asked to identify and indicate whether they liked the foods. In the second task children were presenting four different fruits and vegetables and were asked to try to the foods. Using serial mediation models, we investigated the indirect effect of parental food neophobia (X) on acceptance (Y1) and liking (Y2) of fruits and vegetables through two serial mediators; variety of fruits and vegetables offered by parents (M1) and child food neophobia (M2). These analyses revealed a significant indirect effect of parents’ food neophobia on acceptance and liking of fruits and vegetables through fruit and vegetable variety as well as child food neophobia. There was also a significant serial indirect effect of parent food neophobia on both outcomes through variety and child food neophobia. The results provide further evidence supporting the strong influence that neophobia (both parental and child) and the feeding environment exert on children’s fruit and vegetable liking and acceptance. Future interventions should focus on helping parents overcome their own food neophobia and educate them on the importance of repeatedly exposing their children to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.




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