Teaching children to like and eat vegetables

Devina Wadhera, Elizabeth D. Capaldi Phillips, Lynn M. Wilkie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Higher vegetable intake has been related to lower risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, several cancers and obesity. Yet children consume fewer than the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables set forth by the USDA. Exposure to vegetables has successfully improved children's liking for and consumption of vegetables particularly for children younger than two years. In contrast, associative conditioning seems necessary for older children, especially with bitter vegetables. We review studies using both exposure and associative conditioning to teach children to like vegetables, including flavor-flavor learning and flavor-calorie learning. Recognizing these different processes helps reconcile discrepant literature and may provide techniques for increasing preferences for vegetables in children. Associative conditioning and exposure can be used by parents and others to enhance children's liking for and consumption of vegetables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-84
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Children
  • Conditioned preferences
  • Flavor-calorie learning
  • Flavor-flavor learning
  • Vegetables

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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