TitleTaste intensity in the Beaver Dam Offspring Study.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsFischer, ME, Cruickshanks, KJ, Schubert, CR, Pinto, A, Klein, BEK, Klein, R, F. Nieto, J, Pankow, JS, Huang, G-H, Snyder, DJ
Date Published04/2013
KeywordsAdult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Cross-Sectional Studies, Educational Status, Female, Humans, Life Style, Male, Middle Aged, Reference Values, Retrospective Studies, Sex Factors, Sodium Chloride, Dietary, Taste, Taste Buds, Taste Threshold, Young Adult

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.

Alternate JournalLaryngoscope
PubMed ID23625687
PubMed Central IDPMC3664123
Grant ListR01 AG021917 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R01AG021917 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States