Food neophobia and its association with diet quality and weight in children aged 24 months: a cross sectional study

Food neophobia, the rejection of unknown or novel foods, may result in poor dietary patterns. This study investigates the cross-sectional relationship between neophobia in children aged 24?months and variety of fruit and vegetable consumption, intake of discretionary foods and weight.
Secondary analysis of data from 330 parents of children enrolled in the NOURISH RCT (control group only) and SAIDI studies was performed using data collected at child age 24?months. Neophobia was measured at 24?months using the Child Food Neophobia Scale (CFNS). The cross-sectional associations between total CFNS score and fruit and vegetable variety, discretionary food intake and BMI (Body Mass Index) Z-score were examined via multiple regression models; adjusting for significant covariates.
At 24?months, more neophobic children were found to have lower variety of fruits (??=??0.16, p?=?0.003) and vegetables (??=??0.29, p?<?0.001) but have a greater proportion of daily energy from discretionary foods (??=?0.11, p?=?0.04). There was no significant association between BMI Z-score and CFNS score.
Neophobia is associated with poorer dietary quality. Results highlight the need for interventions to (1) begin early to expose children to a wide variety of nutritious foods before neophobia peaks and (2) enable health professionals to educate parents on strategies to overcome neophobia.

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