Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Foods and Nutrition

Supervisor

Alicia C. Garcia

Abstract

This study highlighted the low intake of vegetables by preschool children and determined whether changing the shape of vegetables increased their level of consumption. A new strategy of repeated exposure to interesting-shaped vegetables was a step aimed at increasing vegetable consumption by increasing the fun element in having vegetables as snacks. Vegetables are the less desirable food in comparison to more attractive unhealthy choices available to children, and discovering a strategy to promote vegetables is considered an important step in nutrition. The primary aim was to explore the effect of repeated exposure (eight times) of shaped vegetables on consumption by preschool children. The secondary aim was to determine the level of accessibility of vegetables at home and its influence on the consumption of the shaped vegetables by children. The purpose of this experiment was to compare the amount of consumption between different days and different vegetable shapes. Children (n=42) from five different childcare centres in London, Ontario as well as their parents were part of the study. Some of the data from the questionnaires came from responses of the parents (n=42), such as the demographic information and the accessibility and availability of vegetables to children at their homes. The experimental test started after the collection of some primary data from the questionnaires. In the first part of the experiment, each child was provided vegetables in their natural forms to provide an indication of the consumption of uncut vegetables as baseline data. The children were later provided with vegetables cut in different shapes (flower-shaped, star-shaped and owl-/bat-shaped). Lastly, the natural shape of vegetables was provided again to the children to determine how the different shapes of vegetables influenced their consumption of natural-shaped vegetables. The preferred dip was served with vegetables for four first days of the study; however, one childcare center had the reverse sequence. The data were analysed using analytical and descriptive statistical tests. In this study the promotion strategy of repeated exposure for 6 days to shaped vegetables increased the preschool children’s consumption of natural shaped vegetables on the 8th day of the experiment by 10.5%. The preschool children’s consumption of shaped vegetables was significantly higher (p<0.001) than their consumption of natural shaped vegetables.