a1 CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences, PO Box 10041, Adelaide BC, South Australia 5000, Australia
a2 School of Psychology, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
a3 Research Centre for Injury Studies, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
a4 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK
Objective To examine whether parents offering a sticker reward to their child to taste a vegetable the child does not currently consume is associated with improvements in children's liking and consumption of the vegetable.
Design A randomized controlled trial evaluated the effectiveness of exposure only (EO) and exposure plus reward (E + R), relative to a control group, on children's liking and consumption of a target vegetable. Assessments were conducted at baseline and 2 weeks from baseline (post-intervention). Follow-up assessments were conducted at 4 weeks and 3 months from baseline.
Setting The study took place in Adelaide, South Australia. Participants were self-selected in response to local media advertisements seeking to recruit parents finding it difficult to get their children to eat vegetables.
Subjects Participants were 185 children (110 boys, seventy-five girls) aged 4–6 years and their primary caregiver/parent (172 mothers, thirteen fathers).
Results The E + R group was able to achieve more days of taste exposure. Both EO and E + R increased liking at post-intervention compared with control and no further change occurred over the follow-up period. All groups increased their intake of the target vegetable at post-intervention. Target vegetable consumption continued to increase significantly over the follow-up period for E + R and control but not for EO.
Conclusions The findings provide support for the effectiveness of using a sticker reward with a repeated exposure strategy. In particular, such rewards can facilitate the actual tastings necessary to change liking.
(Received October 01 2010)
(Accepted July 07 2011)
(Online publication September 07 2011)