Healthy Snack Preferences in School Children

Holmer A1, Hausner H2, Reinbach H2, Bruun Blauert E3, Bredie WLP2 and Wendin K1,2,*

1 SIK - The Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology, Göteborg, Sweden
2 The Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Denmark
3 Meyers Madhus, København N, Denmark

Well balanced nutrition in childhood is important not only for the growth and development of the child but also for long term health [1]. Several studies have shown is that Danish and Swedish school children eat unhealthy snack foods, in particular in the afternoon [2,3]. Food choices and food preferences are influenced by several factors, such as liking, food culture and the social environment [4]. School meals are for instance organized differently in Denmark and Sweden. In Denmark, children often bring a lunch-pack from home, whereas Swedish children are served a free lunch at the school canteen [5]. There is a need for development of palatable snack products in order to stimulate healthier snacking behaviour in schools.

The aim of the study is to compare preferences for cereal bars in 8-10 year old school children in Denmark and Sweden. The snack bars are based on Nordic ingredients such as whole grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruits/berries. Differences in food cultures may influence the children´s acceptances and preferences for these snacks. Furthermore, a free choice paradigm was followed to investigate actual choice behaviour.

A hedonic test using a 7 point smiley scales was conducted to measure the children´s acceptance of five cereal bars varying in composition of typical Nordic ingredients. A preference rank-order of the five bars was also performed. Secondly, the children were asked to choose the most preferred snack product among conventional snacks.

The results will provide knowledge of children’s liking of novel Nordic snack bars. It also gives an indication of healthy snack alternatives that satisfy children’s snack preferences. Furthermore, the different organization of the meals in Denmark and Sweden and the different food culture may influence the results between the two groups of children.

The study is part of the OPUS project 'Optimal well-being, development and health for Danish children through a healthy New Nordic Diet'. Supported by a grant from the Nordea Foundation.

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