Date of Award
Master of Science
Behavior Analysis and Therapy
This study examined the effects of a novel treatment package consisting of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)-based activities with and without contingent rewards on children's consumption of low-preferred healthy foods. Participants were 6, 3-5-year-old children who attended a local day care center. The effects of the two treatment packages on children's tasting, approach, and amount of food consumed were assessed using a multiple baseline design across food categories. During the ACT-based mindfulness condition, the experimenter led a set of four ACT activities prior to the presentation of food. This condition produced a mean increase in foods tasted of 7.4% for fruits but 0% for vegetables, and mean increases in the approach of 18.6% for fruits and 8.7% for vegetables. A second condition consisting of the same ACT activities plus rewards delivered contingent upon tasting the foods produced mean increases in foods tasted of 69.2% for vegetables, 25.3% fruits, and 43.2% for beans, and increases for foods approached of 54.7% for vegetables, 16.2% for fruits, and 44.6% for beans. Both intervention conditions resulted in low mean amounts of food consumed with 0% of vegetables and 17.4% of fruits consumed during the ACT condition, and 1.6%, 6.7%, and 2.6% consumed during the ACT plus rewards condition for vegetables, fruits, and beans respectively. Implications of the results are discussed in terms of their relevance to past and future research.
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