Today, we can choose what to eat from a large variety of foods, and it’s not always easy to go for the healthy option. Choosing fresh vegetables over a pizza, that you just have to pop into the oven, can be hard. Indeed, the worldwide prevalence of obesity nearly doubled in the last 40 years(1). Besides, one who always chooses the healthy option isn’t even guaranteed a healthy diet, as it’s necessary to eat so many different foods to get all the nutrients we need. Food neophobia, is a trait that affects how willing you are to try new foods. It usually aids as a mechanism protecting you from eating potentially dangerous foods. Food neophobia is especially prevalent during childhood and may determine how balanced you will eat as an adult. Therefore, food neophobia should be reduced as much as possible to obtain a healthier diet in adulthood (3). As a meaningful step in reducing obesity in western societies, this would save a lot of money used to treat diseases or psychological problems associated with obesity, which could be used otherwise (2). However, to reduce food neophobia, we first have to find out how it comes about and what underlying psychological mechanisms help maintain food neophobia. Reducing food neophobia in children is not only good for each child’s future health and our health care system, it also allows you to taste all those yummy, surprising foods that are out there!
1: WHO: The challenge of obesity – quick statistics, http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/noncommunicable-diseases/obesity/data-and-statistics, May 2020
2: Overweight and obesity – BMI statistics, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Overweight_and_obesity_-_BMI_statistics, May 2020
3: Dovey, Terence M., Paul A. Staples, E. Leigh Gibson, and Jason C. G. Halford. 2008. “Food Neophobia and ‘Picky/Fussy’ Eating in Children: A Review.” Appetite 50(2):181–93.