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Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Nov;76(5):1101-5.

Taste sensitivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil predicts acceptance of bitter-tasting spinach in 3-6-y-old children.

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  • 1Department of Anthropology, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.



Understanding what motivates the preference for and selection of foods has important health implications. Research suggests that the phytochemicals present in green leafy vegetables contain anticarcinogenic properties. As a result of the bitter taste of phytochemical compounds, however, foods containing these are often not well accepted, particularly by children.


We aimed to study the relation between sensitivity to the bitter taste of 6-n-propylthiocuracil (PROP) and acceptance of bitter- and strong-tasting foods in 3-6-y-old children.


Two independent procedures, a threshold detection and a suprathreshold intensity task, were used to measure individual sensitivity to PROP, and 3 independent tasks were used to assess food acceptance.


Sensitivity to the bitter taste of PROP was positively correlated with dislike of the taste of raw spinach (P < 0.05).


The acceptance of spinach may to some extent be mediated by individual taste perception and be predictable via both threshold and suprathreshold measures of PROP taste sensitivity. Furthermore, children as young as 3 y of age can partake in direct investigations of taste, reliably comply with test procedures, and accurately communicate taste perceptions and preferences under study conditions.

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