Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Paul T. Mountjoy

Second Advisor

Dr. Frederick P. Gault

Third Advisor

Dr. Howard Poole


The present study attempted to delineate the effects of several variables on the development of nutritionally desirable food choices in preschool children. These included: (1) increasing the children's food knowledge through the use of the Nutrition Education Instructional System (NEIS), (2) increasing the children's verbal behavior about food selection prior to making food choices at lunch by requesting the children in a pre-lunch interview to say the rules learned through the NEIS, (3) increasing the children's verbal behavior following lunch by having them identify the foods chosen, and then requesting them to identify whether they had applied the rule, and (4) by introducing token and social reinforcement contingencies for (a) adequately reciting rules during a pre-lunch interview, (b) making a more nutritional food choice at lunch, (c) eating a variety of foods at lunch, and (d) the accuracy of verbal statements during a post-lunch interview. Experimental conditions were arranged to evaluate the effects of the NEIS alone, the NEIS with interviews, and the NEIS with interviews and reinforcement contingencies. Data were recorded on the children's progress through the NEIS, the accuracy of the children's rule statements in the pre-lunch interview, the children's food choices at lunch, and the accuracy of the children's responses in the post-lunch interview. The results indicated that the children proceeded through the NEIS at the same rate. In addition, as reflected in the changes of food choice at lunch, little or no effect was observed when the NEIS was used alone, or in combination with the interviews. However, an increase in the proportion of nutrition food choices was obtained when either the token or social reinforcement system was added. These results tend to suggest that nutrition knowledge alone may not be adequate to change food selection habits in young children. Reinforcement for applying the nutrition knowledge is probably required if the children's food selection habits are to be changed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access