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Development of children’s implicit and explicit attitudes toward healthy food: Personal and environmental factors

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Matthew GortonORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This cross-sectional study investigates the implicit and explicit food attitudes of 1,412 Croatian children (5–9 years old) and extends our knowledge regarding how those attitudes relate to food behavior, while accounting for the potential influence of age and environmental variables such as watching television and poverty. While our findings corroborate previous work to show that children's explicit attitudes tend to be more positive toward unhealthy than healthy foods, we also find that implicit attitudes are actually more positive toward healthy than unhealthy foods. Both implicit and explicit attitudes toward healthy foods were more positive at older ages. More positive attitudes were associated with (a) a stronger belief that healthy foods “make me strong” and (b) greater consumption of healthy foods. Watching television was associated with more favorable attitudes toward unhealthy foods. Our study demonstrates how accounting for both implicit and explicit attitudes across different age groups aids understanding of children's food-related beliefs and behaviors. These insights can help health policy makers and parents instill positive attitudes toward healthy food among children early on and increase their consumption of healthy foods during childhood.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Brecic R, Gorton M, Cvencek D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Appetite

Year: 2022

Volume: 176

Print publication date: 01/09/2022

Online publication date: 26/05/2022

Acceptance date: 19/05/2022

Date deposited: 10/06/2022

ISSN (print): 0195-6663

ISSN (electronic): 1095-8304

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2022.106094


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Funder referenceFunder name
Croatian Science Foundation Project “MATH ATTDS” (No. PZS-2019-02-9814)
European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme STRENGTH2FOOD (No. 678024)