William & Mary

Catherine Forestell quoted in the New York Times

We would like to congratulate Undergraduate Studies Director, Dr. Catherine Forestell for being quoted in a recent NYT article: “Childhood Diet Habits Set in Infancy, Studies Suggest.” 

The article, written by Catherine Saint Louis and published on September 2, highlights new evidence that the food children eat, even before the age of one, have lasting effects and influences future food preferences and consumption. 

Forestell’s findings reveals that early exposure to fruits and vegetables may play a role in establishing a child’s diet patterns, such as whether a child is willing to try new foods. Food neophobia, or the fear of trying new foods, is found in reduced rates among children exposed to a variety of flavors at an early age. 

“I do believe in the importance of the early experience,” said Dr. Forestell, adding that it is crucial for parents “not to be deterred by an initial negative response.”

In a 2007 study by Dr. Forestell, infants who were offered green beans for the first time squinted and wrinkled their noses. But
these young critics willingly opened their mouths to try another spoonful if parents persisted, she said. Still, all is not lost for parents who failed to feed their infants puréed green beans, Dr. Forestell said. 

But there is a catch. Children tend to sample, say, brussels sprouts more readily when they see adults eating them, too. “It’s not just changing your children’s diet,” Dr. Forestell said. “It’s changing the whole family’s, and that’s the kicker, isn’t it?” 

To read the full article, please visit,  the New York Times Fitness & Nutrition section.