Effectiveness of a kindergarten-based intervention to increase vegetable intake and reduce food neophobia amongst 1-year-old children: a cluster randomised controlled trial

  • Eli Anne Myrvoll Blomkvist Department of Public Health, Sport and Nutrition, Faculty of Health and Sort Sciences, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway
  • Andrew K. Wills Department of Public Health, Sport and Nutrition, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway; and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  • Sissel Heidi Helland Department of Public Health, Sport and Nutrition, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway
  • Elisabet Rudjord Hillesund Department of Public Health, Sport and Nutrition, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway
  • Nina Cecilie Øverby Department of Public Health, Sport and Nutrition, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway
Keywords: Children; Kindergarten; Food neophobia; Vegetables; Sensory education; Sapere; Web-based; Online resources.


Background: Children’s first years of life are crucial to their future health. Studies show that a varied diet with a high intake of vegetables is positive in several domains of health. The present low vegetable intake amongst children is, therefore, a concern. Food neophobia is a common barrier to vegetable intake in children. As most Norwegian children attend kindergarten from an early age, kindergartens could contribute to the prevention of food neophobia and the promotion of vegetable intake.

Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the effect of a cluster randomised trial amongst 1-year-old children in kindergarten to reduce food neophobia and promote healthy eating.

Methods: Kindergartens were randomly allocated to either a control group or one of two intervention groups. Both intervention groups (diet and diet + Sapere-method) were served a warm lunch meal including three alternating intervention vegetables, whilst the intervention group 2 (diet + Sapere) in addition received tools for weekly sensory lessons. The intervention was digitally administered via information and recipes on a study website. The control group did not receive any information. Parents completed digitally distributed questionnaires addressing food neophobia and food habits at baseline and post-intervention.

Results: The parents of 144 1-year-old children in 46 kindergartens completed the questionnaires, which were included in the main analysis. The results suggested a higher intake of the intervention vegetables in group 2 (diet + Sapere) compared to the control group. The effect on total vegetable intake was inconclusive. No effect was observed on the level of food neophobia in either of the intervention group.

Conclusion: This digitally delivered dietary and sensory intervention promoted the intake of intervention-targeted vegetables with inconclusive effect on total vegetable intake due to large loss to follow-up. No effect on the level of food neophobia was detected.


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How to Cite
Blomkvist E. A. M., Wills A. K., Helland S. H., Hillesund E. R., & Øverby N. C. (2021). Effectiveness of a kindergarten-based intervention to increase vegetable intake and reduce food neophobia amongst 1-year-old children: a cluster randomised controlled trial. Food & Nutrition Research, 65. https://doi.org/10.29219/fnr.v65.7679
Original Articles