Food and sensory experiences: Testing the efficacy of an educational project in the primary school of Friuli Venezia Giulia Region   

Gellini G., Agostini T.
First author's affiliation: University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy

It is well known that individual food preferences are strictly dependent on social, cultural, and cognitive factors. More recently, the relevance of the genetic component in determining people taste has been shown as well (Bufe et al., 2005; Mennella et al., 2005). In children, it is quite frequent to observe food neophobia, an unwillingness to ingest unfamiliar foods (Birch, 1980; Pliner & Loewen, 1997), which appears to be especially strong regarding vegetables. In the present research, we have tested the efficacy of a food educational method to promote correct alimentation behaviour in children. A selected sample of 340 students of Friuli Venezia Giulia primary school has been treated for three months with a sensory-cognitive didactic approach. The intervention focused on three main treatments: sensory literacy, food and drink guided testing, and didactic vegetable garden. Ad hoc prepared questionnaire has been used in the test and re-test phases of the research. Data show that children significantly changed their alimentary preferences toward a more extensive choice of wholesome foods that were experienced during the didactic phases of the research. Furthermore, the re-test revealed that children, after the treatment, increase their capabilities to argue their own food preferences.