Background/Aims: Sensory attributes such as smell, taste and texture influence dietary behaviour. Given that sweet taste has a powerful hedonic appeal; preference for sweet tasting foods may contribute to excessive consumption. The aim of the study was to investigate whether sensitivity to and preference for sweet taste influences sweet food liking and choice.
Methods: This cross-sectional study recruited 45 women aged 20-40 years. Taste analysis included glucose recognition threshold and rating sweet taste intensity and hedonic liking of 125mM, 250mM, 500mM and 1000mM glucose samples. Three questionnaires assessing eating behaviour and sweet food liking and choice were completed.
Results: Recognition threshold data indicate that some individuals are more sensitive to sweet taste than others. A negative relationship was observed between sweet taste intensity and hedonic liking of 1000mM glucose (r=-0.78, p<0.001). Furthermore, sweet taste intensity of 1000mM glucose was negatively correlated with fruit juice (r=-0.44, p=0.002) and fruit drink (r=-0.47, p=0.001) liking. Fruit juice liking correlated positively with the hedonic liking of the 1000mM glucose solution (r=0.35, p=0.02). Participants preferring savoury foods as snacks, rated 1000mM glucose as more intense (t(43)=-2.26, p=0.03).
Conclusions: Liking of sweet beverages is associated with reduced perceived intensity and higher hedonic liking of sweet taste. Furthermore, the sweet intensity perception appears to influence the choice of snack food. Our data suggest that intensity perception and hedonic preference of sweet taste play important roles in habitual sweet food liking and choice.
Funding source(s): Massey University Research Fund