on cross-disciplinary global disability research.
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Contact: Sarah Ball, Tel: (internal x82 72 2352)
'1pm' Internal Speakers Seminar Series
Title: ‘Food preferences and eating behaviour in early childhood’
Speaker: Ms Alison Fildes
Date & Time: Friday 15th February 1pm-2pm
Venue: G37 & G38
Poor diet is a major contributor to the global burden of disease. The main predictor of dietary choices is food preferences. Preferences for sweet and energy-dense foods are generally high whereas vegetables are widely disliked, but there are considerable individual differences and explanations for this wide variation in vegetable acceptance remain elusive. Early childhood is an important period for the development of food preferences and early experience is strongly associated with later food acceptance. However understanding of how food preferences and eating behaviours develop through childhood is limited and the extent to which these traits are genetically determined is unclear. Understanding the origins of food preferences and eating behaviour traits, such as food fussiness, is important for informing effective interventions. Interventions attempting to modify young children’s preferences for fruits and vegetables have highlighted effective techniques but have been too intensive to permit economical dissemination on a public health level. Moreover, the same intervention will not work for every child and the genetic and environmental influences on the individual differences in children’s responses to these interventions remains to be explored. This thesis uses the Gemini twin cohort to explore the genetic and environmental influences on food preferences and fussiness in childhood and examines the extent to which individual differences in children’s responses to dietary modification interventions are heritable.
Alison graduated in 2007 with a First Class Honours degree in Psychology from the University of Edinburgh. She joined the Health Behaviour Research Centre at UCL in January 2009 as a Research Assistant on the Gemini twin study and has continued her involvement with this project. In March 2010 she took the position of Research Assistant on Habeat, a European Union funded study. This project has involved running a randomised control trial aimed at increasing vegetable acceptance in infants during weaning. Alison started her PhD part-time in September 2010 alongside her role as Research assistant, under the supervision of Professor Jane Wardle, Dr Lucy Cooke and Dr Ellen van Jaarsveld.
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