Development and Acquisition of Flavor and Food Preferences in Children: An Update Until 2010
- Paloma Dominguez
The purpose of the present research is to identify the experience-related mechanisms which induce the establishment of children’s flavor, food and drink acceptance and preferences. The development of children’s preferences for flavors, foods and drinks is mediated by a variety of mechanisms, such as flavor transmission via amniotic fluid (AF) and neonatal feeding regimen (breastfeeding and formula milk-based feeding), mere repeated exposure, conditioned preferences for or aversions to gustatory stimuli based on subsequent postingestive consequences, parental strategies and food management of school meals. Operation of specific mechanisms is age-dependent, but they may have interacting effects. An essential feature of these mechanisms is exposure to flavors and foods, which requires prior selection of foods by adults and thereby guarantees cultural transmission of gastronomic habits. Promoting healthy patterns of food consumption by children, such as diets rich in vegetables, requires careful manipulation of these experience-related mechanisms. Flavor, food and drink preferences developed by young and older children appear to remain stable in later life stages, probably due to gustatory imprintings originated during prenatal gestation and childhood. However, the specific age ranges during which such gustatory imprinting may occur, remain, in most cases, unknown. In addition to this, there is a need for further research on specific aspects of the above-mentioned mechanisms to elucidate the development of food preferences in children. For example, the impact of breastfeeding history on later food and/or flavor preferences beyond infancy should be ascertained.
- Bella DongEditorial Assistant