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Appetite. 2013 Sep;68:124-31. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2013.04.025. Epub 2013 May 3.

Relationship between food preferences and PROP taster status of college students.

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Department of Psychology, 1 Avenue of the Arts, Newport News, VA 23606, USA.


How food tastes plays a key role in our food choices and eating behavior, with important implications for health and nutrition. The negative relationship of genetically predisposed sensitivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) and food preferences for bitter, creamy, and spicy foods, and alcohol is often reported in both scholarly and popular literature. Our review of research indicates the empirical results are far from conclusive. We conducted a questionnaire-based study to examine enjoyment ratings for 12 foods and beverages often reported to be disliked by PROP supertasters. We measured PROP ratings on the modified gLMS scale and administered a questionnaire to assess food preferences of a sample of 139 college undergraduates. Analysis of variance showed no significant group differences between supertasters, medium tasters, and nontasters in ratings of how much they liked brussels sprouts, raw broccoli, cabbage, spinach, black coffee, dark chocolate, crushed red pepper, jalapenos, chili peppers, red wine, beer, creamy salad dressing, or mayonnaise. Preferences for only two foods out of twelve, dark chocolate and chili peppers, had a significant correlation with PROP sensitivity in the predicted negative direction. While statistically significant, these correlations were low and of little practical significance. The role of culture in shaping attitudes toward food is proposed as a more powerful influence than the genetic factors that relate to PROP sensitivity.

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