Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Food Qual Prefer. 2012 Oct 1;26(1):58-66. Epub 2012 Apr 2.

Lingual tactile acuity and food texture preferences among children and their mothers.

Author information

Monell Chemical Senses Center, 3500 Market St., Philadelphia, PA, USA 19104.


Despite anecdotal reports of children being more sensitive to texture than adults, and of texture being one of the main drivers of food aversions, there is a paucity of scientific knowledge on the influence of texture perception on food choice in children. The primary goals of this study were to assess the use of a modified letter-identification task to study lingual tactile acuity, one aspect of oral sensitivity, in children and to examine age-related differences in sensitivity. The secondary goal was to explore whether lingual tactile acuity and age relate to various measures of food choice and preference. To this end, children 7-10 years old (31 girls, 21 boys) and their mothers were tested using identical procedures. To assess lingual tactile acuity, children and mothers were asked to use the tips of their tongues to identify raised alphabetical letters of varying size (2.5-8.0 mm) on Teflon strips. To relate lingual tactile acuity to food texture preferences, a forced-choice questionnaire assessed preferences for foods similar in flavor but different in texture (e.g., smooth versus crunchy peanut butter). Children were able to complete the lingual acuity task as well as their mothers and took less time to assess each letter stimulus (p < 0.001); however, there were no age-related differences in lingual acuity (p = 0.14). Age, but not lingual acuity, related to food texture preferences: mothers preferred harder foods (p < 0.001) and those containing more particles (p < 0.04) than did children, although children's preferences became more adult-like with increasing age. The availability of a rapid, child-friendly method for assessing oral sensitivity opens up new possibilities of examining differences in oral tactile perceptions across the life span. That food preferences changed with age and were not related to oral sensitivity underscores the fact that factors such as experience, culture and family food practices have a significant impact on children's food texture preferences.

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center