Accepted abstract - Creative Tastebuds Symposium 2021

The Role of Emotions in Children's Food Choices

Opinion paper

By Julia Sick, Sara Spinelli & Erminio Monteleone, University of Florence, Department of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Forestry, Italy.

Emotions are an important part of us that cannot be disregarded when talking about food. On the one hand, emotions can influence the food we want to eat and how much of it, while on the other hand, the food we consume can provoke emotions in us and give us more information compared to the sole evaluation of liking. Despite the complexity of defining what an emotion is, we know that stimulating our senses (sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing) can trigger a wide variety of emotions. One of the most common sensory experiences we encounter, is the food we consume daily. Food does not only provide us with necessary energy for survival, but also strongly influences the way we feel, which in turn influences our food choices.

Using a multidisciplinary approach, the study investigates the role of emotions in 9-13-year-old children´s food preferences in connection with individual differences of personality traits and sensory sensitivity. Children taste a series of food models varying in intensities of basic tastes and report their emotions elicited for each food model. The emotional profiles might contribute to better prediction of individual food preferences in children 

But can the power of emotions also be used to increase the consumption of more healthy and sustainable food choices?