The present paper explores the relative importance of liking and taste preferences as correlates of fruit and vegetable (FV) intakes among schoolchildren in Europe. The paper first provides an overview of potential determinants of food choice among children and subsequently summarizes the results of two recent observational studies on determinants of FV intakes among school-aged children. It is proposed that taste preferences and liking are important for children's food choices as part of a broader spectrum of nutrition behaviour determinants. Taste preferences and liking are important for motivation to eat certain foods, but social-cultural and physical environmental factors that determine availability and accessibility of foods, as well as nutrition knowledge and abilities should also be considered.
Study 1 shows that children with a positive liking for FV have a greater likelihood to eat fruits (odds ratio (OR) = 1·97) or vegetables (OR = 1·60) every day, while ability and opportunity related factors such as knowledge, self-efficacy, parental influences and accessibility of FV were also associated with likelihood of daily intakes (ORs between 1·16 and 2·75). These results were consistent across different countries in Europe. Study 2 shows that taste prerences were the stongest mediator of gender differences in FV intakes among children; the fact that girls eat more could for a large extend be explained by there stronger taste preferences.