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Research finds teenagers fussier with food than toddlers

26 May 2021
UK teenagers are fussier with their food than toddlers, according to a recent survey by HelloFresh.

Meal box delivery company Hello Fresh asked 1,013 respondents for their insights on everything from the foods that triggered the most mealtime tantrums, to discovering the go-to tactics for challenging picky eaters.

The results showed that children aged between one and four were the most adventurous eaters, followed by children aged between five and nine-years-old.

Pre-teens and teenagers (aged between ten and 17) were found to be the fussiest with their food. On average, UK parents add a new food to their children's diets every six months or sooner.

The survey also revealed:

  • 11% of parents we surveyed said that they hadn’t introduced a new food into their kids diets in over ten years.
  • 50% of parents surveyed said that over a typical week, they are able to cook meals using less than ten ingredients. 
  • 47% said that the contents of their grocery shop tends to be around half unchanged.

The survey found that spicy, bitter, and umami (earthy) flavoured foods were the hardest to get kids to try. The ingredients that caused the most table tantrums were vegetables, seafood and shellfish. 

Food scientist and University of Oxford Professor Charles Spence, said: "Around 13 years old is likely to be when kids are establishing their individual identity and hence food fussiness may be part of that. One of the best ways to like new foods is to build up exposure away from the dinner table.

“By, for example, being involved in meal selection, watching dinner being cooked, or even by using vegetables in play. Sensory familiarity starts to build up without the pressure of having to eat. And thereafter it becomes that much easier to taste the foods and to like them.”

HelloFresh has created child-friendly meal ideas to try here.