Food preferences of schoolchildren of the Kemerovo region

Objective. To study food preferences of schoolchildren of the city of Mezhdurechensk (Kemerovo region) with respect to dishes and cooked products in the menu that is offered to them, to specify their knowledge of health benefits.

Patients and methods. Food preferences were studied with the help of the «Album of school menu dishes and cooked products», containing high-quality photos of products and dishes included in the current school menu. All photos from the Album were numbered and united into 4 groups, the first of which included beverages (11 items), group 2 – products and dishes making the basis of a breakfast or lunch (22 items), group 3 – vegetables and salads (8 items), group 4 – baked puddings and pastry (10 items). In questionnaires, schoolchildren ranked products and dishes in order of preference (from 1 to 4 – I like the dish, take sometimes; eat very rarely, if my favorite dishes are absent; I don’t like the dish) and in accordance with their awareness of health benefits of particular products.

Results. Such beverages as lemon tea, rosehip tea, dried apricot compote, tea with sugar, and juice were ranked high with respect to their preference in the menu in 100% of cases. 85–96% of schoolchildren who took part in the survey would like to have kissel «Valetek», dried fruit compote in the school menu. Coffee-and milk drink, «Valetek» drink, cocoa with milk, and orange-apple compote were not popular among children, ranking medium and lower (3–4), only 42 to 53% schoolchildren would like to see them in the menu. From 14.4 to 21% of children refused to take such beverages as coffee-and-milk drink and cocoa with milk altogether. Fish and liver dishes, milk cereals have the lowest preference rating, and only 32–53% of the questioned schoolchildren like them. Out of 8 items of the group 3 dishes, only 3 (fresh cabbage salad, vegetable salad with beetroot, potato-and-cheese pudding) will be eaten with pleasure by 80.8 to 85.4% of children (high preference rating). From 46.3 to 66.8% of schoolchildren would like to see in the menu the other 5 dishes (sweet carrot salad, beetroot and carrot pickle, fresh cabbage salad with apple, and stewed cabbage). Sausage rolls, school pizza and jam puff remain the most popular among schoolchildren, 100% of the children want them in their menu though they are aware that they are not very healthy foods. Cottage cheese pudding is eaten with pleasure by 71.4% of the questioned schoolchildren. In general, the schoolchildren understood and were aware about the dietetic orientation of the menu but personal food preferences, the texture and appearance, the taste of foods were much more important for them. 

Conclusion. We employed the method with the use of photos for studying food preferences which permitted to determine gaps in children’s knowledge about the benefits of food products and healthy nutrition, to establish ratings of children’s food preferences of dishes in order to include them in a school menu. This work will further permit to elaborate preventive measures to create rational eating behaviour of schoolchildren.

Key words: schoolchildren, food preferences, educational institutions.

For citation: Tapeshkina N.V., Perevalov A.Ya. Food preferences of schoolchildren of the Kemerovo region. Vopr. dietol. (Nutrition). 2016; 6(1): 47–53.

DOI: 10.20953/2224-5448-2016-1-47-53