Presentation Details
No Significant Taste Sensitivity or Preference Differences Following Ad Libitum Consumption of Ultra-Processed and Unprocessed Diets

Paule Joseph1, Alexis Franks1, Rosario Jaime-Lara1, Juen Guo2, Amber Courville2, Ciaran Forde3, Shanna Yang4, Abhrarup Roy1, Karen Taylor1, Kevin Hall2.

1NINR, Bethesda, MD, USA.2NIDDK, Bethesa, MD, USA.3Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, Singapore, Singapore.4NIH Clinical Center, Bethesda, MD, USA


Increases in obesity have coincided with the increased availability of ultra-processed foods (UPF). A recent study showed increased adiposity and energy intake following UPF. However, the mechanism by which UPF promote greater intake remains unclear, but changes in taste may contribute to increased intake and positive energy balance. This study explored taste sensitivity and preference and associations between taste and clinical parameters following 2 weeks on UPF or unprocessed diet(UP). In a crossover in-patient trial, 20 participants were randomized to receive UPF/UP. Taste preferences and detection thresholds were measured using comparison-tracking and forced-choice procedures respectively following each diet. Body weight and blood pressure were measured daily. Mixed model analysis was used to determine the effect of diet on patient characteristics, including BMI and blood pressure. Spearman correlations and univariate linear regressions were used to analyze taste measures by diet and taste(salt and sucrose) preference and detection thresholds. No significant differences in sweet taste(M=12.8±SD=8.20;M=13.7±SD=7.14;p=0.541) and salt taste preference (M=1.6±0.45;M=1.7±SD=0.54;p=0.997) and sweet (M=6.9±SD=5.55;M=7.0±SD=6.29;p=0.946) and salt detection thresholds(M=10.6±SD=14.80; M=10.7±SD=11.17;p=0.997) were found between the UPF and UP diets. Positive associations were found between salt taste preference, BMI(r=0.503;p=0.028) and blood pressure(r=0.588;p=0.008) following the UPF diet. This suggest that differences in eating behavior between diets unlikely arise from taste related factors. Studies are needed to clarify the mechanism by which UPF promote greater intake, and the possible relationship with taste sensitivity and preference.

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