Assessment of Sensory Taste Perception in Children
In health research, sensory taste perception and preference have rarely been examined. Especially in children, it is challenging to conduct sensory taste perception and preference tests due to their still-developing cognitive and physiological abilities. In the IDEFICS and I.Family studies, four different instruments were developed to assess sensory taste perception and preference in children, adolescents and their parents across Europe. A taste threshold test and a taste preference test were adapted to be used in children from the age of 6 years onwards in the IDEFICS study. A food and beverage preference questionnaire and a taste intensity test were adapted to be used in I.Family. The taste preference test and the taste intensity test were conducted with standardised real foods to obtain results that are relevant for real-life conditions. The taste threshold test was conducted with standardised solutions. All test procedures were standardised across the participating countries, and all materials were supplied centrally and tested for suitability. Experiences in the surveys showed that these four instruments were suitable to be used in children and adolescents. The game-like character of the sensory test module enhanced the acceptance of this survey module and made it quite popular among the participating children. Furthermore, the sensory tests were reported to be the participants’ favourite procedure during the surveys. In conclusion, these tests were feasible to be conducted in large-scale studies across Europe.
The development of instruments, the baseline data collection and the first follow-up work as part of the IDEFICS study (www.idefics.eu) were financially supported by the European Commission within the Sixth RTD Framework Programme Contract No. 016181 (FOOD). The most recent follow-up including the development of new instruments and the adaptation of previously used instruments was conducted in the framework of the I.Family study (www.ifamilystudy.eu) which was funded by the European Commission within the Seventh RTD Framework Programme Contract No. 266044 (KBBE 2010–14).
We thank all families for participating in the extensive examinations of the IDEFICS and I.Family studies. We are also grateful for the support from school boards, headmasters and communities.
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