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Rewards can be used effectively with repeated exposure to increase liking of vegetables in 4–6-year-old children

  • Nadia Corsini (a1), Amy Slater (a2), Adam Harrison (a3), Lucy Cooke (a4) and David N Cox (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 07 September 2011

To examine whether parents offering a sticker reward to their child to taste a vegetable the child does not currently consume is associated with improvements in children's liking and consumption of the vegetable.


A randomized controlled trial evaluated the effectiveness of exposure only (EO) and exposure plus reward (E + R), relative to a control group, on children's liking and consumption of a target vegetable. Assessments were conducted at baseline and 2 weeks from baseline (post-intervention). Follow-up assessments were conducted at 4 weeks and 3 months from baseline.


The study took place in Adelaide, South Australia. Participants were self-selected in response to local media advertisements seeking to recruit parents finding it difficult to get their children to eat vegetables.


Participants were 185 children (110 boys, seventy-five girls) aged 4–6 years and their primary caregiver/parent (172 mothers, thirteen fathers).


The E + R group was able to achieve more days of taste exposure. Both EO and E + R increased liking at post-intervention compared with control and no further change occurred over the follow-up period. All groups increased their intake of the target vegetable at post-intervention. Target vegetable consumption continued to increase significantly over the follow-up period for E + R and control but not for EO.


The findings provide support for the effectiveness of using a sticker reward with a repeated exposure strategy. In particular, such rewards can facilitate the actual tastings necessary to change liking.

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