How children like their meals served
Children can be very particular about the type of food they eat and how it is served to them. If you are a parent, you have probably experienced how your children like their meals served in a particular way, which can be a frustrating exercise at times. That’s why researchers from the Future Consumer Lab investigated how children prefer their food to be served, which can help parents prepare desirable, healthy meals for their kids.
The results showed that girls aged 7–8 years preferred a separate serving style, while no specific style was preferred by boys of the same age.
The aim of this study was to investigate children’s preferred serving styles of typical dinner meals. The research involved 100 school children aged 7–8 years and 12–14 years. The children were asked to rank their preference on photos of six different dinner meals presented with various food items arranged on a plate in three different ways — elements of the food presented separately so they did not touch each other; a mix of separate ingredients and ingredients that were mixed together; and all the food mixed together. They scored their liking of each meal on a seven-point smiley scale.
The results showed that girls aged 7–8 years preferred a separate serving style, while no specific style was preferred by boys of the same age. Older children preferred food to be either mixed together or served as a combination of separate and mixed-together food items. However, no gender differences were found in older children.
The research does not explain why younger girls prefer separated food items to be served to them. One explanation could be that separated food items gives them a degree of control in eating certain food items in a particular order. Giving children separate food items on a plate also allows them to mix the food if they wish, according to their own individual taste.
The researchers recommended that when it comes to the younger age group, it is best to serve them food separated on a plate.
Source: Journal of Sensory Studies
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