To describe the profile of food preferences, likes and dislikes of Spanish children and young people and analyse its connection with prevailing food patterns.
Cross-sectional population survey.
Population study. Data were collected at participants' home address.
Random sample of the Spanish population aged 2-24 y (n=3534; 1629 boys and 1905 girls).
Food preferences, food consumption and practices as well as nutrition-related information were assessed by means of a multiple choice questionnaire. A food preference score was computed considering food items ranked as first, second or third choice within each food group. Data collection was carried out during May 1998-April 2000.
Bananas and apples were the fruit items preferred by Spanish children and young people across all age and gender groups. Within the vegetable group tomato sauce and salads, particularly lettuce and tomato salad scored highest, followed by carrots in all age and gender groups. However, 47% (95% confidence interval 46-48%) of the sample reported dislike for vegetables and an additional 5.7% (95% confidence interval 4.9-6.5%) a dislike for fruit. The proportion of individuals with low consumption of vegetables or fruit was significantly higher among those reporting a dislike either for vegetables (chi(2)=127.69; P<0.001); fruit (chi(2)=24.62; P<0.001) or for both groups (chi(2)=81.53; P<0.001).
There is a significant relationship between the likes/dislikes for fruits and vegetables and usual consumption of this food group among children and young people. Strategies addressed to improve acceptance for this food group should be considered when designing interventions aimed at promoting adequate consumption of fruits and vegetables among children and young people.