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Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1999 Apr;23(4):403-10.

Sensory and hedonic associations with macronutrient and energy intakes of lean and obese consumers.

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  • 1Institute of Food Research, Reading, UK.



To establish differences between lean and obese subjects in subjective reports of predominant taste and texture attributes of 'foods as eaten', and the relationships of these qualities to hedonic preference and objective measures of dietary intake and composition.


Free-living subjects received instruction in a laboratory and kept diaries of foods eaten at home.


41 lean (body mass index (BMI) 20-25 kg/m2) and 35 obese (BMI > or = 30 kg/m2), non-dieting healthy adults.


Subjects kept four-day weighed dietary intake records, simultaneously assigning ratings for perceived pleasantness and predominant sensory attributes (taste and texture) of food eaten, and completed the Dutch Eating Behaviour questionnaire (DEBQ). Anthropometric measures included body composition assessed by bioelectrical impedance.


By all anthropometric measures (except height) the obese group was significantly larger than the lean group, but no significant differences were found for DEBQ scores. There were no significant group differences between pleasantness scores overall, nor for foods classified by predominant taste. Whilst macronutrient intakes did not differ, the obese group's mean dietary energy density was significantly higher, and they reported significantly greater dietary energy from 'salty' foods. For the obese group, the percentage of 'salty' foods eaten correlated strongly with energy density. A strong positive association was found between 'liking extremely' and 'sweet' foods for the lean group, but no clear associations were found for any particular taste and hedonic rating for the obese group. Whilst both groups used similar texture descriptors, there were not clear or unambiguous differences in their assignment or association with other measures.


The results suggest that obese and lean subjects do not self-select diets with markedly different perceived sensory or hedonic attributes. However obese subjects appear to consume a diet higher in energy density, which is particularly associated with intakes of salty/savoury (rather than sweet) food items.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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