Public Defence: Frida Felicia Vennerød-Diesen – Public Health Nutrition

M.Phil. Frida Felicia Vennerød-Diesen at Institute of Basic Medical Sciences will be defending the thesis “The Development of Taste Preferences in Children. A Longitudinal Study of Norwegian Preschoolers” for the degree of Philosophiae doctor (PhD).

Photo: Simon Vennerød-Diesen

Trial Lecture – time and place

See Trial Lecture.

Adjudication committee

  • First opponent: Associate Professor Lisa Methven, University of Reading

  • Second opponent: Professor Nina Cecilie Øverby, University of Agder
  • Third member of the adjudication committee: Researcher Ahmed Ali Madar, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence

Professor Torbjørn Åge Moum, University of Oslo

Principal Supervisor

Forsker Valérie Lengard, Nofima AS


Healthy food habits in childhood are important to fulfill their potential, hinder overweight and lay a good foundation. Taste is the most important factor for children’s food choices. Frida Felicia Vennerød-Diesen therefore examined the development of taste preferences in preschoolers, and how sensitivity and parents influence these preferences.

The aims of this dissertation were to examine how taste preferences are affected by development between the age of four and six, to investigate how taste preferences and sensitivity interact, to examine how parental practices and food exposure influence preferences, and to investigate the reliability and validity of doing sensory tests with preschoolers.

The data was collected as a longitudinal study and investigated the sensitivity and preference of 155 preschoolers. Parents did in addition answer questionnaires. The protocols of the procedures were non-verbal for the children and included elements of gamification, which facilitated reliable answers and high participation rate. 

The children’s preferences were investigated with beverages and chocolates that differed in added basic taste. The children had a general high sweet preference at age four, which had increased at age six. For sour and bitterness, there was no development. Children less sensitive to sweetness preferred sweeter taste. Children more sensitive to bitterness preferred more bitter/less sweet taste.

Children exposed to more sweet foods by their parents preferred sweeter taste. Children that were exposed to more fruit did however preferer less sweet taste. A high exposure to bitter foods was related to higher bitter preference. Parents that used sweets as rewards had children with higher sweet preference.

To conclude, age, sensitivity and parents partly explain differences in taste preferences. Parental practices can skew their children’s preferences in both directions.

Additional information

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Published Nov. 21, 2018 4:04 PM - Last modified Nov. 29, 2018 3:40 PM