Published: December 2017

ID #: 1099

Publisher: Healthy Eating Research

Authors: Anzman-Frasca S, Ventura AK, Ehrenberg S, Myers KP

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Childhood is an especially important time to promote the acceptance of healthier foods given the oversaturation of unhealthy modern food environments, poor diet quality in young children, and the high prevalence of nutrition-related diseases in many nations. This issue brief is based on a narrative review, published in Obesity Reviews, on how children learn food preferences during the prenatal period, infancy, and early childhood (ages 2-5). The evidence suggests that children can learn preferences for foods before birth, and that food preferences are further influenced by tastes in breast milk and formula. Infants continue to learn to accept new tastes when they are introduced to other foods. Repeatedly offering a variety of healthy foods during infancy and throughout early childhood can have lasting effects on a child’s acceptance and consumption of healthy foods. The evidence from this brief can be used to help caregivers and practitioners promote the development of healthy food preferences early in life, as well as to inform the development of policies to support implementation of these practices in a variety of settings where young children spend time.

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