Accepted abstract - Creative Tastebuds Symposium 2021

Children as food designers – the potential of co-creation to make the healthy choice the preferred one

Opinion paper

By Martina Galler12 Kristine S. Myhrer1 and Paula Varela1; 1Nofima Ås, Department of Innovation, Sensory and Consumer Science, 2NMBU, Faculty of Chemistry, Biotechnology and Food Science, Norway.

According to the WHO childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century (WHO, 2019). In this context, finding ways how to make the healthier food choices the preferred ones can be a valuable contribution to solving this multifaceted problem. Sensory and consumer science offers a wide range of tools that can support the development of healthy and well accepted food alternatives. In traditional sensory and consumer science children would be involved in the product development process either as testers or informants. In our opinion it could however be valuable to extend their role to co-creators or co-designers where they actively participate in the generation of ideas for healthy food that they will like and choose.

An extended involvement of children in food product development is likely to better bridge the gap between the world of the grown-up product developer and the child. It is well known that children differ in their food preferences from grown-ups. They prefer for example higher levels of sweetness than adults and tend to avoid bitter tasting foods more (Mennella & Bobowski, 2015). Also, visual, extrinsic cues for example cartoons on food packaging play a big role in their food choice influencing the acceptance of the intrinsic food properties as well (Enax et al., 2015).

Our own experience has shown that involving children in the idea generation for healthy food can be highly motivating and stimulating for them. In this paper we will try to pin down the process underlying co-creation and suggest some methods that could be valuable for brainstorming about food ideas with children based on our own research. 


Enax, L., Weber, B., Ahlers, M., Kaiser, U., et al. (2015). Food packaging cues influence taste perception and increase effort provision for a recommended snack product in children. Front Psychol, 6, 882. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00882

Mennella, J. A., & Bobowski, N. K. (2015). The sweetness and bitterness of childhood: Insights from basic research on taste preferences. Physiol Behav, 152(Pt B), 502-507. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.05.015.

WHO. (2019). Childhood overweight and obesity. Global Strategy on Diet, Pysical Activity and Health. Retrieved from