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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 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 (US)
Pages (from-to)1399-1404
Number of pages6
JournalLaryngoscope
Volume123
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2013

Keywords

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

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