The development of a fruit and vegetable liking tool for preschool aged children : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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The aim of this research is to develop a fruit and vegetable liking tool for use in caregivers and preschoolers that is a good representation of the preschooler’s actual fruit and vegetable intake. Accurate assessment of young children’s dietary intake is increasingly important, as evidence has linked diet with future health and wellbeing. Young children’s food intake can be difficult to assess, as they lack many skills and concepts to report on their intake. Food liking may provide an indication of dietary intake. A cross-sectional validation study of 101 children, aged 51.40 ± 6.35 months (mean ± SD), and their caregivers, was conducted to assess children’s fruit and vegetable liking using a newly developed caregiver’s liking tool, and a children’s liking tool. A 5-point scale was used for the children, and a continuum scale for the caregivers. The maximum liking and disliking scores were 45 and - 45 respectively. The tools were compared and validated against a fruit and vegetable intake record. The total mean liking score was 18.53 ± 12.34 out of a possible liking score of 45 for the children’s tool compared with 17.46 ± 9.65 for the caregiver’s tool. The children’s and caregiver’s results showed a higher liking of fruit (24.20 ± 15.24 and 29.17 ± 10.73) than vegetables (11.06 ± 18.16 and 6.13 ± 12.84) respectively. The children’s daily mean intake of fruits and vegetables was 7.27 ± 3.03 servings, composed of 3.87 ± 1.77 servings for fruit, and 3.39 ± 1.78 servings for vegetables. The children’s and caregiver’s tools were moderately correlated with each other (r=0.284, P<0.001). The caregiver’s tool was validated against the intake record (r=0.350, P<0.001), but the children’s tool was not (r=-0.066, P=0.512). Both the caregiver’s and children’s tools showed high reproducibility (r=0.874, P<0.001 and r=0.691, P<0.001) respectively. This study provides evidence that a caregiver’s fruit and vegetable liking tool may be used to assess liking and intake of fruit and vegetables in preschool aged children. The children’s fruit and vegetable liking tool may also be useful to assess their liking of fruits and vegetables.
Fruit consumption in children, Vegetable consumption in children, Attitudes to fruit, Attitudes to vegetables, Liking tool, Preschool children