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Eating for pleasure or profit: the effect of incentives on children's enjoyment of vegetables

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 18:40 authored by Lucy J Cooke, Lucy C Chambers, Elizabeth V Añez, Helen A Croker, David Boniface, Martin YeomansMartin Yeomans, Jane Wardle
Parents commonly use rewards to encourage children to eat healthfully, but this practice remains controversial because rewards are suspected of undermining children's intrinsic motivation. A cluster-randomized trial examined children's acceptance of a disliked vegetable over 12 daily taste exposures. These exposures were paired with a tangible reward, a social reward, or no reward, and the findings were compared with the results from a no-treatment control condition. Liking and intake of the vegetable were assessed in a free-choice consumption task at preintervention, postintervention, 1 month after intervention, and 3 months after intervention. Liking increased more in the three intervention conditions than in the control condition, and there were no significant differences between the intervention conditions. These effects were maintained at follow-up. Children in both reward conditions increased consumption, and these effects were maintained for 3 months; however, the effects of exposure with no reward became nonsignificant by 3 months. These results indicate that external rewards do not necessarily produce negative effects and may be useful in promoting healthful eating.


Publication status

  • Published


Psychological Science




SAGE Publications





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Department affiliated with

  • Psychology Publications


I was involved in this MRC-funded project as expert on learning theory, and advised on the design of the study, data analysis and commented on draft versions of the manuscript as well as helping to repsond to referee's comments.

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  • Yes

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