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SENSORY PREFERENCES AND DISCRIMINATION ABILITY OF CHILDREN IN RELATION TO THEIR BODY WEIGHT STATUS

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Abstract

ABSTRACT

Knowledge about potential differences in sensory preferences and discrimination ability between normal weight and overweight or obese children might help to better understand the genesis of overweight. Sensory preferences and discrimination ability were analyzed using paired-comparison blinded sensory tests on preferences (n = 5) and sensitivity (n = 4) in 574 fifth to ninth graders (10–17 years) from five schools in Dortmund. For the examination of the taste categories, sweet, salty and sour, sugar, table salt or citric acid were added to suitable customary foods. Fatty foods were included in the tests using cheese and sausage (salami) in the preference tests and milk with different fat contents in the sensitivity tests. Approximately half of the subjects preferred the more concentrated sample of the sweet (52%), salty (45%) and sour (48%) food, and the high-fat samples (41 and 49%). Between 60 (fat) and 74% (sweet) of the subjects were able to identify the more concentrated sample in the sensitivity tests. All results of sensory tests were irrespective of body weight status or age- and gender-adjusted body mass index. The hypothesized difference in sensory preferences and discrimination ability of normal weight and overweight/obese children and adolescents could not be confirmed using carefully designed tests in a large sample.

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS

The results of this large study gave no indication of different sensory preferences and discrimination abilities with increasing body weight. Therefore, our study may serve as a valuable contribution to the discussion on why some children become overweight but others do not.

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