Healthy food - a healthy habit

Tuesday, 19 June, 2007

Two recent research projects have shed light on how infants develop tastes for particular foods and to what extent older people lose their ability to smell, taste and perceive different foods, spiciness and texture.

The results, to be presented in Melbourne this month at the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology Inc (AIFST) 40th Anniversary Convention, could impact the way we influence an infant's likes or dislikes of nutritional foods, and provide better nutrition for seniors through the development of special food products for older people.

Dr Conor Delahunty, Science Manager, Food Quality: Measurement and Perception at Food Science Australia, says that health related to food in later life may depend on how infants learn to eat.

"There is evidence that sensory preferences and dietary habits learned during infancy and early childhood can continue into later life," he said.

"Research conducted with groups of pregnant women found that infants exposed to carrot juice in the last trimester of pregnancy and during breast-feeding were more likely to accept carrot flavoured cereals at time of weaning," he said.

According to Dr Delahunty, parents are able to influence eating behaviour positively or negatively.

"In another study I was involved in at University College Cork we looked at infants' and toddlers' eating habits in order to understand the acceptance of fruits in their diet. We found that a child who eats a lot of fruit at six months is eating a lot of fruit at 18 months. As concern increases regarding obesity in children a parent's influence on nutritious eating habits is vital."

The 40th AIFST Convention is at the Melbourne Convention Centre, 24-27 June. A convention program overview and further information can be found at the AIFST website:

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