Taste preferences of preschoolers and parents’ contribution to shaping their children’s eating habits in the context of obesity development
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Higher School of Health Promotion, Kraków, Poland
Student, Faculty of Medicine, Jagiellonian University, Medical College, Kraków, Poland
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Rural Health, Lublin, Poland
Emilia Kolarzyk   

Krakow Higher School of Health Promotion, Krowoderska 73, 31-008, Kraków, Poland
Introduction and objective:
Improper diet of children and their preference for sweet taste may be risk factors for the development of obesity and childhood caries. The aim of the study was to evaluate the taste preferences of preschoolers and to estimate the methods used by parents to shape the nutritional behaviour of their children.

Material and methods:
The research covered 108 preschool children and 86 parents. All children completed a pictorial questionnaire containing images of 32 food products. The children expressed their preferences (I really like, I like, I don’t like) by choosing the appropriate emoji. The questionnaire for parents concerned the diet of children on days off from kindergarten. The nutritional status of children was evaluated on the basis of the BMI. Children with normal weight/underweight and those overweight / obese were compared using χ2 or the exact Fisher test.

Most preschoolers indicated that they liked the most crisps, jam, sweets, chocolate and sweet drinks. They also enjoyed fruits which are naturally sweet: apples (97%) and bananas (94%). The favourite vegetables were cucumbers (84%), potatoes (83%), and carrots (77%). Children had a tendency to make incorrect food choices. Fast food was very popular, while fish was disliked. Parents reported that children like meatless sweet dishes (crêpes, pancakes, dumplings). Such factors as unlimited access to sweets at home (p=0.05) and rewarding/motivation with sweets (p=0.013) were significantly associated with a child’s overweight/obesity status. Excess body weight was found in 22.1% of children (overweight – 3.5 %; obesity –18.6%).

Children had a clear preference for sweet taste. Reducing the consumption of sweets and increasing the nutritional awareness of parents and children may prevent the development of childhood obesity.

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