Children 'much prefer' natural foods to processed options


For most parents, it will seem like their children will always want to snack on treats whenever they get the chance.

But according to new research, kids actually prefer foods that they believe to be natural over more processed fare.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh and Yale studied the preferences of more than 370 adults and children in the United States when presented with apples and orange juice and told of their origins.

The team assessed the participants’ apple preferences in terms of perceived tastiness, perceived safety and desire to eat.

“Both children and adults preferred apples they believed were grown on farms to those grown in labs,” the authors wrote of their findings.

And in a second study, 85 children aged five to seven years old and a group of 64 adults were shown four different kinds of orange juice - one described as squeezed on a farm, one with no information about it, one with chemicals allegedly removed, and one described as having chemicals added.

The researchers found that the information on the juice's "naturalness" had a significant effect on its rating.

“Overall, we provide evidence that, at least in the United States, our tendency to prefer natural food is present in childhood,” said Dr Matti Wilks. “This research offers a first step towards understanding how these preferences are formed, including whether they are socially learned and what drives our tendency to prefer natural things."

Both studies showed that age had little effect on the outcome, with children as young as five and as old as 10 responding similarly.

Full study results were published in Developmental Psychology.