Involving children in meal planning and preparation: dyadic effects on liking and consumption of vegetables

  • T. Radtke
  • U. Scholz


Background: Most children do not meet the recommended vegetable intake. Involving children in meal preparation could be an effective means to increase vegetable consumption. This assumption is based on the “IKEA effect”, which assumes that individuals like self-created objects more than objects created by someone else. Due to this higher preference for self-prepared objects higher levels of consumption of these objects is likely. Thus, this study assumes that children`s involvement in meal planning and preparation has a positive influence on vegetable consumption mediated via liking of vegetables. Method: 920 parent/child dyads participated in the study. Parents had a mean age of M = 36.09 (SD = 5.43) and children (54% girls) were 8.22 years old on average (SD = 1.42; range 6-11). Children and one of their parents provided self-reports regarding vegetable consumption via questionnaires. Hypotheses were tested with path analysis, accounting for intra-dyadic associations among respective constructs (e.g. parental and children`s food liking). Findings: Analyses indicated a direct effect of children`s participation in meal preparation on liking of vegetables as well as a direct effect of liking on vegetable consumption. Results were unaffected by controlling for children’s age and gender as well as the role model behaviour of the parents concerning healthy eating. However, the assumed indirect effect of children`s participation in meal preparation on vegetable consumption via liking was only 10%-level significant. Discussion: The findings emphasise the importance of parental encouragement for involving their children in the preparation of meals to improve liking of vegetables and vegetable intake.