Why Kids Have Food Likes and Dislikes

Apr 9, 2015

It might seem like a control issue when your child starts hating certain foods and loving sugar, but new research is showing their preferences are linked to genes and body size.

Our taste scientist from the Monell Institute explains the research, pointing out that kids in growth spurts demand sweets. In addition, all children are equipped with far more taste receptors than adults have, so their taste patterns are different.

We talk with 14-year-old Connecticut student Maria Mack about her preferences, and with her mother, our senior producer, Lori Mack.

Chef Chris Prosperi brainstorms with us about recipes for kids' food.

Claudine Pépin discusses her new book Kids Cook Fench, teaching children to cook and eat French food. The book is illustrated by Claudine's dad, Jacques Pépin, and her daughter Shorey.

Are Kids' Taste Buds Different from Adults'?

Children's Taste Sensitivity and Food Choices Influenced by Taste Gene

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  • Lori Mack – senior producer, WNPR
  • Maria Mack – student
  • Claudine Pépin – author, Kids Eat French
  • Chris Prosperi – chef/owner, Metro Bis in Simsbury, Conn.


  • “Gne Gne,” Montefiori Cocktail
  • “Life in Technicolor,” Coldplay
  • “Love and Happiness,” John Mellencamp
  • “Telephone and Rubber Band,” Penguin Cafe Orchestra

Jonathan McNicol contributed to this show.