Author(s): Fischer ME, Cruickshanks KJ, Schubert CR, Pinto A, Klein BE,Klein R, Nieto FJ, Pankow JS, Huang GH, Snyder DJ. Taste intensity in the Beaver Dam Offspring Study. Laryngoscope. 2013 Jun;123(6):1399-404. doi: 10.1002/lary.23894. Epub 2013 Apr 26. PMID 23625687
Journal: The Laryngoscope, Volume 123, Issue 6, Jun 2013
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.