Play with your food and cook it! Tactile play with fish as a way of promoting acceptance of fish in 11 to 13 year old children in a school setting – a qualitative study.

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  • Rikke Højer, FOOD, KU, Denmark
  • Michael Bom Frøst, FOOD, KU, Denmark
  • Karen Wistoft
Danish children only consume one-third of the officially recommended amount of fish. This is despite a rich and long food tradition of consuming fish in Denmark, and the health benefits of eating fish. The objective of this study was to explore and investigate an experiential and sensory-based experiment in a school setting with focus on tactile play and cooking as a way of promoting 11 to 13 year old children’s acceptance of fish. The research design of this study was a qualitative explanatory multiple case study design using participant observation, informal conversational interviews, and photo documentation in a school setting. Four classes were recruited from the Capitol region and two from the region of Zealand (n = 132). Through thematic analysis the following four key themes were identified in relation to the main category; children’s rejection/acceptance of fish: Rejection, acceptance, craftsmanship, and interaction. Rejection and acceptance seemed to happen gradually along a rejection - acceptance continuum related to how the fish was categorized: as animal, non-animal, or food, in the different phases of the experiment. Rejection was promoted by e.g. fish skin mucus, smell, animalness, and texture in the mouth whereas togetherness, helping each other, exploring through touch, tactile play, craftsmanship, and familiarity promoted acceptance. In conclusion, findings in this study highlight that tactile play and cooking together could be ways to promote acceptance of fish. Also, the findings support the importance of school setting and the subject Food knowledge as a possible gate way to promote healthy food behavior through a focus on children’s food and culinary knowledge and skills.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusSubmitted - 20 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Part of Rikke Højer Nielsens Ph.D dissertation

    Research areas

  • Experiential learning, Food acceptance, Tactile play, Cooking, Students, Fish

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