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Food texture influences children's eating behavior

  1. According to scientists from Maastricht UMC + and Maastricht University, the texture of food determines whether young children leave or eat their food. Taste and color are less important. This has been shown by research in children between 2.5 and 4 years.

  1. Almost half of all children between the ages of 4 and 24 months are labeled by their parents as a picky eater. The danger of this is that children get too little nutrients and do not eat a varied enough diet. According to researchers, this may also cause problems in eating behavior and eating pattern at a later age. A child who refuses to eat also creates stressful situations for the parents. Scientists are therefore trying to find out which characteristics of food influence picky eating behavior.

Yogurt experiment

  1. For the study, the influence of color, taste and texture was compared. Children between the ages of 2.5 and 4 years were given pink yogurt with raspberry flavor as a basis. It was determined in advance that the participants would like this. During the experiment, the yogurt color was adjusted without changing the raspberry flavor. The unusual colors blue and green were found to have no effect on eating behavior. The children took just as many spoons from it as from the pink raspberry yogurt. Also changing the taste in apple or lemon (without changing the pink color) was found to have no effect on the children. However, when the researchers changed the texture of the yogurt by adding quarter pieces of raspberry or raspberry pulp, the toddlers didn't want to taste it anymore.


  1. Based on the findings, the scientists recommend that children get used to different structures in the diet at an early stage. “Parents of picky eaters often don't know what to do if their child refuses to eat,” says lead researcher Jessica Werthmann. "The research therefore shows that it is important not only to vary in taste, but also in texture. Baby food, for example, comes in many flavors, but that is almost always in the form of a kind of puree. To increase the acceptance of new foods in children, it would be good to vary in texture. " In the follow-up study, the researchers will study whether the results also apply to eating vegetables. The researchers publish their results in the scientific journal Appetite.

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