Taste intensity in the Beaver Dam Offspring Study

Mary E. Fischer*, Karen J. Cruickshanks, Carla R. Schubert, Alex Pinto, Barbara E.K. Klein, Ronald Klein, F. Javier Nieto, James S. Pankow, Guan-Hua Huang, Derek J. Snyder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives/Hypothesis To determine the distribution of the perceived intensity of salt, sweet, sour, and bitter in a large population and to investigate factors associated with perceived taste intensity. Study Design Cross-sectional population. Methods Subjects (n = 2,374; mean age, 48.8 years) were participants in the Beaver Dam Offspring Study examined during 2005 to 2008. Perceived taste intensity was measured using paper disks and a general labeled magnitude scale. Multiple linear regression was performed. Results Mean intensity ratings were: salt = 27.2 (standard deviation [SD] = 18.5), sweet = 20.4 (SD = 15.0), sour = 35.7 (SD = 21.4), and bitter = 49.6 (SD = 23.3). Females and those with less than a college degree education rated tastes stronger. With adjustment for age, sex, and education, stronger perceived sour and bitter intensities were related to current smoking (sour: B = 2.8, 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.4 to 5.2; bitter: B = 2.8, 95% CI, 0.3 to 5.4) and lipid-lowering medications (sour: B = 5.1, 95% CI, 2.5 to 7.6; bitter: B = 3.2, 95% CI, 0.6 to 5.8). Alcohol consumption in the past year was related to weaker salt (B = -2.8, 95% CI, -5.3 to -0.3) and sweet intensity ratings (B = -2.3, 95% CI, -4.3 to -0.3), whereas olfactory impairment was associated with higher sweet ratings (B = 4.7, 95% CI, 1.4 to 7.9). Conclusions Perceived intensities were strongest for bitter and weakest for sweet. Sex and education were associated with each taste, whereas age did not demonstrate a consistent relationship. Associations with other factors differed by tastants, with current smoking and alcohol consumption being related to some tastes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1399-1404
Number of pages6
JournalLaryngoscope
Volume123
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2013

Keywords

  • bitter taste
  • Salt taste
  • sour taste
  • sweet taste

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