Young children know what they like to eat and prefer mostly salty, sugary and fatty foods, says a research.
The study from the University of Oregon Lundquist College of Business found that preschoolers ages 3 to 5 could equate their taste preferences to brand-name fast-food and soda products.
Moreover, they are turning to condiments to add these flavours - and with them calories-to be sure that the foods they eat match their taste preferences.
"If we want to pursue intervention, we probably need to start earlier," said T. Bettina Cornwell.
"Repeated exposure builds taste preferences."
In the study, parents noted the desire for foods high in sugar, fat and salt, while their children showed preference for flavor-added foods, which contained these ingredients.
The results, the researcher wrote, "suggest that fast food and soda brand knowledge is linked to the development of a preference for sugar, fat and salt in food."
Cornwell concluded that fighting childhood obesity should begin at home.
First, families should focus on reducing the consumption of low-nutrient "junk" foods and replacing them with increased servings of healthy foods.
Such an approach, the researchers noted in their conclusion, moves away from issues of weight and dieting-instead targeting the development of tastes preferences.
The study appeared online in January ahead of regular publication in the journal Appetite.