STRONG Kids Program Subproject: Preschoolers' Food Preferences and Nutritional Knowledge


The aim of this subproject is to interview preschoolers themselves to gather their beliefs and attitudes about food and healthy nutrition and to link these beliefs and attitudes to their media and marketing exposure, as previously measured in the umbrella parent survey. A sample of approximately 150 four- and five-year-olds will be interviewed one-on-one using an innovative food-choice instrument that requires children to choose photographs of foods and assemble them on “plates” representing healthy meals and preferred meals. Children’s nutritional reasoning will then be gauged by asking them about the reasons behind their choices. The results of this study will shed light on the associations between media/marketing exposure (and other variables in the parent survey) and children’s personal beliefs about and attitudes toward food and its role in helping them grow up healthy and strong.

Research Team

  • Kristen Harrison, PhD, Professor, Communication Studies
  • Gwen Costa-Jacobsohn, Graduate Research Assistant
  • Mericarmen Peralta, Project Manager


  • Illinois Transdiciplinary Obesity Prevention Program (I-TOPP) Seed Grant, 2011
  • Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR) Sentinel Program Seed Grant, College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Illinois Department of Human Services, Bureau of Child Care and Development
  • Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Illinois
  • Family Resiliency Center, University of Illinois


Kristen Harrison
Principal Investigator
Phone: 734-764-6718