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Sophie Nicklaus

Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l’Alimentation, UMR CNRS, INRAE, Institut Agro, Université de Bourgogne
Main affiliation: INRAE



Development of eating behavior during the first 1000 days: mechanisms, consequences on health outcomes, and public health communication


During this presentation, I will first explain the main factors enabling and leading to the development of eating behavior during the first thousand days of life, related in particular to sensory development, milk and complementary feeding experience and psychosocial environment. Then I will explain the consequences of eating behavior and dietary intake during this period on health outcomes (growth, allergic diseases and neurodevelopment). Finally, I will describe which can be the implications of this accumulating knowledge for public health communication, and how in turn research can build on communication regarding healthy eating during the first thousand days.


Sophie Nicklaus, PhD is a Senior Scientist at INRAE (the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment), in the Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l’Alimentation (Center for Taste and Feeding Behavior) in Dijon, France. She received her PhD in Food Science from the University of Burgundy (Dijon, France) in 2004; and her Habilitation in 2013. She has been studying children’s eating behavior (food preferences; control of food intake) for the past 20 years, looking at the role of food-related inputs (sensory properties, energy density) in the development and evolution of infants and children’s liking and food intake, using experimental and epidemiological approaches (in particular in two birth cohorts, OPALINE and ELFE). She is especially interested in understanding the impact of early eating experiences on later eating behavior, and their contribution to health status (obesity, allergy). She led the team ‘Determinants of eating behavior across the lifespan, relationships with health’ from 2017 to 2023. In 2018, she was awarded the Danone International Prize on Alimentation. In 2020, she took over the scientific lead of the ‘Dijon, Alimentation Durable 2030’ (‘Dijon, sustainable food system 2030’), a systemic development project coordinated by the Municipality of Dijon, aimed at demonstrating the pathway toward sustainable agrifood system with a network of more than 20 local stakeholders. She is also engaged with the French public health agency, to contribute to the promotion of healthy eating habits toward the lay public. Since 2024, she joined the “Food and bioeconomy” Scientific Direction of INRAE.