Research Program To Study Children's Dairy Preferences

Program is one of the first to look at the interaction between biological and environmental factors in predicting eating habits, starting at birth

Published on: Jun 11, 2013

Researchers at the University of Illinois' Family Resiliency Center this week announced a $1 million partnership with the Dairy Research Institute to take a look at the formation of children's eating habits, including dairy intake.

The project, called "STRONG Kids 2: A cells-to-society approach to nutrition," builds on the understanding that children develop food preferences, immune tolerance and the gut microbiome between birth to three years of age.

Program research will provide unique insights into how individual biology interacts with the family environment to promote healthy eating habits, including milk and dairy consumption, in young children. It is one of the first longitudinal studies to take a look at biological and environmental factors in predicting eating habits, starting at birth. 

DAIRY FIRST? Program will look at what shapes a childs eating habits and how that translates to future food preferences.
DAIRY FIRST? Program will look at what shapes a child's eating habits and how that translates to future food preferences.

The project is part of the larger STRONG Kids Program based at the Family Resiliency Center and is being co-directed by Dr. Barbara Fiese and Dr. Sharon Donovan. 

"The Family Resiliency Center is excited about this partnership as this research project will make important contributions towards informing policy and practice that help families create healthy habits for their children from the beginning," says FRC Director Fiese. 

STRONG Kids 2 is built upon previous research with preschool aged children, documenting the relationship among genetic, child, and family factors in predicting BMI and dietary habits, projects the Dairy Research Institute is particularly interested in.

"For generations, dairy farmers have been committed to children's health, wellness and learning," said Greg Miller, Ph.D., President, Dairy Research Institute.  "We're proud to be part of this important research initiative that will provide critical new insights for health and wellness professionals to use in helping kids establish good nutrition habits they need for a lifetime, such as drinking milk."

Click here for more information about the project.