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Food Qual Prefer. 2019 Jan;71:301-310. doi: 10.1016/j.foodqual.2018.08.002. Epub 2018 Aug 3.

Sensory variety in shape and color influences fruit and vegetable intake, liking, and purchase intentions in some subsets of adults: a randomized pilot experiment.

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Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Department of Nutrition, 665 Huntington Ave, Bldg 2, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
Rome Tre University, Department of Business Studies, Via Silvio D'Amico, 77, 00145 Rome, Italy.
New York University, Stern School of Business, 40 West 4th Street, Room 807, New York, NY 10012, USA.


Dietary variety increases food intake, but it is unclear if sensory differences elicit increases in eating-related behaviors. Using a 4×3 between-subject pilot experiment, we examined if increasing sensory variety (control, color, shape, both color and shape) and priming individuals to notice differences or similarities in the foods (positive, neutral, negative) influenced ad libitum proximal intake, liking, and willingness to purchase pears and peppers among 164 Greater Boston adults >18y/o. MANOVA was used to examine associations between sensory variety (independent variable) and six dependent measures. We tested for interactions between sensory variety condition and individual-level factors that may influence food intake. There was no main effect of sensory variety condition for any dependent measure. However, interactions between sensory variety condition and age, overweight status, and prime were detected. Adults with overweight (vs. adults of normal weight) ate more pear with color variety (7.2 vs. 4.4 oz, p=0.01). Pear intake was also higher among adults with overweight in the color variety (7.2 oz) vs. combination variety (4.4 oz) condition. Adults ≥36y/o ate more peppers (3.5 oz) in the color variety condition versus other conditions (2.1-2.2 oz, p=0.04). Participants primed to notice differences were more willing to purchase pears in the color variety (5.0 ± 0.5) versus control (3.7 ± 0.5) condition. Color variety may modestly increase proximal intake, liking, and purchase intentions for fruits and vegetables in some subsets of adults. Our preliminary findings encourage more research to determine if color variety can be used to improve diet quality of targeted populations.


color variety; food intake; fruit; sensory variety; shape variety; vegetable

[Available on 2020-01-01]

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