Nutrition Claims Impact Health Perceptions and Taste Preferences in 4th and 5th Grade Children

Speaker: Lorrene Davis Ritchie, PhD, RD and Jessica Soldavini, MPH

Objective: To determine whether children perceive food with nutrition claims as healthier and tasting differently than those without claims.

Methods: Fourth- and fifth-graders (n = 47) from 3 California schools participated. Two identical products (cookies, crackers, or juice) were placed in front of product packages, 1 with a nutrition claim, the other without. Each child was asked which product was healthier and which tasted better.

Results: The percentage of children who identified the reduced-fat cookie, whole-grain cracker, or 100% juice as healthier was 81%, 83% and 81%, respectively. The taste of the “healthier” product (ie, with nutrition claim) was preferred by 72%, 67%, and 54%, respectively.

Conclusions and Implications: A convenience sample of children perceived products with a nutrition claim as healthier and identified the “healthier” cookies and crackers as tasting better. Future research should examine whether food labeling can be used to encourage children to consume healthier diets.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe how nutrition claims influence fourth-and fifth-graders perceptions of the healthfulness of a product
  2. Describe how nutrition claims influence fourth-and fifth-graders perceptions on the taste of a product
  3. Discuss how different types of nutrition claims may have different effects on the perception of products