Lisa Afonso, Sara Aboim, Patrícia Pessoa (CIDTFF) & Xana Sá-Pinto (CIDTFF) | Public Health Nutrition, pp. 1-21


Objective: To determine the impact of an educational program for primary schools that explored the biodiversity of tomato, by promoting science and sensory education with three distinct varieties of it, in the acceptance of vegetables.

Design: A randomized controlled study in which children were exposed to the educational program (intervention group) or remained in the class, as usual (control group). The educational program consisted of three sessions where children explained the observed differences between the three varieties of tomato and individual perceptions of their flavors based on sensory-based food education and by planning and implementing experiments to explain those differences. We tested the effects on both children’s willingness to try and their liking for tomato, and for lettuce and cabbage to study the carry-over effect, compared with the control group (Mann-Whitney U test; p < 0.05).

Setting: The study took place in public primary schools in Porto, Portugal.

Participants: Children in the third grade (8-13-year-old children) (n 136) that were randomly assigned to intervention or control group.

Results: Children in the intervention group reported significant increases in their willingness to try and liking for tomato compared to the control group (p < 0.05), but not for lettuce and cabbage (p > 0.05).

Conclusions: These results highlight the potential for fostering children’s acceptance of a vegetable by exploring biodiversity through science education. Further work may clarify the effects of exploring biodiversity on the consumption of vegetables and establish whether the results are stable over time and replicable across contexts and populations.

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Afonso, L., Aboim, S., Pessoa, P., & Sá-Pinto, X. (2020). The taste of biodiversity – Science and sensory education with different varieties of a vegetable to promote acceptance among primary school children. Public Health Nutrition, 1-21.