Play with Your Food and Cook It! Tactile Play with Fish as a Way of Promoting Acceptance of Fish in 11- to 13-Year-Old Children in a School Setting: A Qualitative Study

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Despite a tradition of consuming fish in Denmark and despite the health benefits of eating fish, Danish children consume only one-third of the officially recommended amount of fish. The objective of this study was to explore an experiential and sensory-based exercise in a school setting with focus on tactile play and cooking as a way of promoting 11-to 13-year-old children’s acceptance of fish. The design was a qualitative exploratory multiple-case design using participant observation in a school setting. Six classes were recruited from the Eastern part of Denmark (n = 132). Based on an exercise with cooking fish and gyotaku (fish print), four meta-themes were identified by applying applied thematic analysis: rejection, acceptance, craftsmanship, and interaction. Rejection and acceptance appeared along a rejection–acceptance continuum related to how the fish was categorised (animal, non-animal, food) in different phases of the experiment. Rejection was promoted by mucus, smell, animalness, and texture, whereas helping each other, tactile play, and craftsmanship promoted acceptance. In conclusion, this study found that tactile play combined with cooking could be a way of promoting acceptance of fish. The findings also support a school setting as a potential gateway in promoting healthy food behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3180
Issue number10
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Children, Cooking, Fish, Food acceptance, Health promotion, Tactile play

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