Abstract: Food neophobia and picky/fussy eating behavior are presented as the two main factors responsible for children’s food rejections and reduction of their dietary repertoire. In the first part of my talk, I will review the key factors that are involved in food rejections during childhood. I will insist on a range of “cognitive factors”, such as food perception, mental representations, categorizations of food items, and emotions and feelings toward food. I will then summarized the findings altogether to provide a comprehensive view of the factors involved in children’s food rejections. In the second part of my talk, I will present two outcomes of a PhD project I am co-supervising. The first outcome is the validation of a new scale that enables the assessment of food neophobia and pickiness, so as to fill an important gap in the psychometric assessment of French children food rejections. We concentrated on French children aged 2- to 7-years old, as no such scale exists for this young population. I will show that this French Children Rejections Scale (FCRS) represents a valuable tool to study childhood food rejections and the efficiency of interventions aiming to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables, and sheds light on the nature and the extent of the relationship between food neophobia and pickiness, as well as on their developmental paths. Then I will present the results of an experiment we conducted whose aim was to decipher the complex relationship between food rejections and categorization abilities in children from 2 to 5 years old. We compared the performance of children on a sorting task with their individual neophobia scores computed via the FCRS. In the categorization task, we varied two parameters food categorization seems to depend on: color and shape. I will show that the results we obtained speak in favor of the idea that children’s level of food rejection is a behavioral manifestation of the developmental characteristics of their food categorization system.
Dr Jérémie Lafraire is a research scientist in cognitive science, graduated from Institut Jean Nicod in 2012. He conducted his postdoctoral project at the the Institut Paul Bocuse on Food Neophobia in 2014 and he is currently a research scientist who are interested in philosophy of cognitive science, philosophy of mind and food perception and behaviour.
If you want to know more about Dr Lafraire’s research please visit the following link: https://sites.google.com/site/lafraire/