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Feel your food. The influence of tactile sensitivity on picky eating in children

Nederkoorn, Chantal, Jansen, Anita, Havermans, Remco C.
Appetite 2015 v.84 pp. 7-10
children, eating habits, food acceptability, foods, hands, mouth, taste
Children who are very picky in eating frequently refuse the intake of foods. This rejection is not only based on the evaluation of taste, but also on tactile qualities of foods. It matters whether food is crispy or slimy, consistent, or with bits and pips. It is hypothesised that children who are more sensitive to touch and dislike the feel of various tactile stimuli in general, are also more dismissive of tactile stimulation in their mouth and therefore more selective in their eating. In the present study, 44 children between the ages of 4 and 10 were asked to feel different tactile stimuli with their hands and to taste different foods. Results showed a significant positive correlation between the evaluations of the two modalities, especially for the younger subjects. This suggests that tactile sensitivity might play a role in the acceptance of food. Future research could explore if training children to tolerate more tactile stimuli would also increase their appreciation of a wider variety of foods.