Chemosensory Perception

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 139–145 | Cite as

Intensity of Salt Taste and Prevalence of Hypertension Are Not Related in the Beaver Dam Offspring Study

  • Mary E. Fischer
  • Karen J. Cruickshanks
  • Alex Pinto
  • Carla R. Schubert
  • Barbara E. K. Klein
  • Ronald Klein
  • F. Javier Nieto
  • James S. Pankow
  • Derek J. Snyder
  • Brendan J. Keating


Standard clinical advice for the prevention and treatment of hypertension includes limitation of salt intake. Previous studies of the association between perception of salt taste and hypertension prevalence have not reported consistent results and have usually been conducted in small study populations. The aim of this study is to determine the cross-sectional relationship among the intensity of salt taste, discretionary salt use, and hypertension. Subjects (n = 2,371, mean age = 48.8 years) were participants in the Beaver Dam Offspring Study, an investigation of sensory loss and aging conducted in 2005–2008. Salt taste intensity was measured using a filter paper disk impregnated with 1.0 M sodium chloride and a general Labeled Magnitude Scale. Hypertension was defined as systolic blood pressure ≥140 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure ≥90 mmHg or use of high blood pressure medication. Nearly 32% of the participants rated the salt disk as weak or having no taste, while approximately 10% considered it to be very strong or stronger. The intensity was reported to be less strong by men (P < 0.001) and college graduates (P = 0.02), and was inversely associated with frequency of adding salt to foods (P = 0.02). There was no significant association between hypertension and the intensity of salt taste, before and after adjustment for covariates. Exclusion of subjects with a history of physician diagnosed hypertension did not appreciably alter these findings. The perception of salt taste was related to the frequency of discretionary salt use but not to hypertension status or mean blood pressure.


High blood pressure Hypertension Population Salt taste Salt use Taste intensity 



Body mass index


Beaver Dam Offspring Study


Confidence interval


Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study


Generalized estimating equation


General labeled magnitude scale










Millimeter of mercury


Odds ratio


Standard deviation



The authors thank the participants for their continued commitment to the study. The project described was supported by R01AG021917 from the National Institute on Aging, National Eye Institute, and National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (to K.J. Cruickshanks). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the official views of the National Institute on Aging or the National Institutes of Health.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary E. Fischer
    • 1
  • Karen J. Cruickshanks
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alex Pinto
    • 1
  • Carla R. Schubert
    • 1
  • Barbara E. K. Klein
    • 1
  • Ronald Klein
    • 1
  • F. Javier Nieto
    • 2
  • James S. Pankow
    • 3
  • Derek J. Snyder
    • 4
  • Brendan J. Keating
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Ophthalmology and Visual SciencesUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Population Health SciencesUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA
  3. 3.Division of Epidemiology and Community HealthUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologySan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  5. 5.School of MedicineUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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