Development of Child-Friendly Fish Dishes to Increase Young Children’s Acceptance and Consumption of Fish


Background: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommend that Americans age two years and older consume seafood, especially fish high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, at least twice a week. Although fish is of particular importance during childhood to support proper brain and eye development, it is under-consumed in the US pediatric population. This study examined if substituting salmon for chicken would increase preschooler’s fish consumption. Methods: Two-to-five years old children (n = 45) were served eight lunches (four pairs of comparable chicken versus salmon dishes) twice, totaling sixteen lunches over a period of three months to test the hypothesis that children will consume fish at least once a week, thus increasing docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake. The plate waste method was used to collect intake data and consumption of total energy and DHA intake in the chicken and the fish dishes were compared using contrasts within a mixed effect ANOVA (significance at P < 0.05). Results: Dietary intake estimates showed that there were no significant differences in energy intake when the chicken and fish dishes looked similar (macaroni-and-cheese and wraps), but when the fish dishes looked new (nuggets and dumplings), energy intake on fish days was lower than on the chicken day. DHA intake increased significantly on all days the fish was served. Conclusions: This pilot study indicates that fish intake can meet recommendations if salmon is incorporated into familiar dishes such as salad wraps or macaroni-and-cheese, in the childcare setting. Although fish is more expensive, childcare centers may serve this highly nutritious protein once a week without experiencing undue amounts of food wastes if incorporated into well-accepted main dishes. Further studies in larger and more diverse samples of children, different experimental dishes, and longer exposure periods may elucidate additional venues to increase children’s diet quality by increasing consumption of fatty fish.

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L. Huss, S. McCabe, J. Dobbs-Oates, J. Burgess, C. Behnke, C. Santerre and S. Kranz, "Development of Child-Friendly Fish Dishes to Increase Young Children’s Acceptance and Consumption of Fish," Food and Nutrition Sciences, Vol. 4 No. 10A, 2013, pp. 78-87. doi: 10.4236/fns.2013.410A012.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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