Neophobia is a phenomenon quite common, particularly in children; it is nothing more than a refusal to the ’new’’ foods 2 that the child has not accustomed to assume either that he has taken from the early stages of life. This rejection is often found particularly important foods in a varied diet, such as fruits and vegetables.
Recent studies1 have investigated the development of taste in children and correlated neophobia to a number of factors that influence food choices from an early age.
In fact, the taste and the food choices are influenced by early life stages of child 3:
• the genetic influence the function of the major taste receptors;
• food that feeds the mother into the fetus during pregnancy, taking knowledge of them 4;
• the breastfed baby perceives the taste of breast milk, which vary by maternal nutrition;
• weaning provides the first taste experience of food 5.
Consequently, the child who did not know the vegetables weaning, with its mildly bitter component, tend to reject strongly in the later stages of life.
In conclusion, early exposure to a wide range of flavors is indicated as the only key to foster in children the desire to eat fruits and vegetables, as well as to reduce neophobia and distrust to taste new foods, expanding the variety of the diet.
1 Lo sviluppo del gusto nel bambino. L. Greco (European Laboratory for Food Induced Diseases).
2 Dovey TM, Staples PA, Gibson EL, Halford JC. Food neophobia and ‘picky/fussy’ eating in children: a review. Appetite 2008 Mar-May;50(2-3):181-93.
3 Nicklaus S, Boggio V, Chabanet C, Issanchou S. A prospective study of food variety seeking in childhood, adolescence and early adult life. Appetite. 2005 Jun;44(3):289-297.
4 Mennella JA, Jagnow CP, Beauchamp GK. Prenatal and postnatal flavor learning by human infants. Pediatrics. 2001 Jun;107(6):E88.
5 Cooke LJ, The importance of exposure for healthy eating in childhood: a review J Hum Nutr Diet 2007 20; 294-301.