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Communication Dans Un Congrès Année : 2016

Development of Food Preferences and Appetite in the First Years


Infants are born equipped to ingest nutrients, but have to learn how, what and how much to eat. This must occur early, because the mode of feeding evolves dramatically, from ‘tube’ feeding in utero to eating table foods with the family. Eating habits established during early years contribute to the development of subsequent eating habits. Therefore, it is fundamental to understand the most important early periods for the development of eating habits and the drivers of this development. Here we will focus on the first three years of postnatal life. Several characteristics of the eating experience contribute to drive infant’s eating and to shape preferences and energy intake control: food sensory properties; food energy density, social context of eating. The learning processes involve repeated exposure (including to a variety of flavours), association with post-absorptive consequences (energy density) and with contextual signals (interaction with family members). Beyond the first flavour discoveries during the prenatal and lactation periods (through the infant’s exposure to flavours from foods of the mother’s diet), the most important phases for learning food preferences and appetite control may be the beginning of complementary feeding. Infants discover the sensory (texture, taste and flavour) and nutritional properties (energy density) of the foods that will ultimately compose their adult diet; parents are still in charge of providing appropriate foods, timing, context for eating. Inter-individual differences in learning, related to temperamental dimensions, to sensitivity to food cues (sensory cues or energy density) are large and also have to be taken into account.

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Dates et versions

hal-01427002 , version 1 (05-01-2017)


  • HAL Id : hal-01427002 , version 1


Sophie Nicklaus. Development of Food Preferences and Appetite in the First Years. The Power of Programming 2016 - International Conference on Developmental Origins of Adiposity and Long-Term Health, Oct 2016, Munich, Germany. pp.111-112. ⟨hal-01427002⟩
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