Effect of sensory perception of foods on appetite and food intake: a review of studies on humans

Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003 Oct;27(10):1152-66. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0802391.


Objective: How much do the sensory properties of food influence the way people select their food and how much they eat? The objective of this paper is to review results from studies investigating the link between the sensory perception of food and human appetite regulation.

Content of the review: The influence of palatability on appetite and food intake in humans has been investigated in several studies. All reviewed studies have shown increased intake as palatability increased, whereas assessments of the effect of palatability using measures of subjective appetite sensations have shown diverging results, for example, subjects either feel more hungry and less full after a palatable meal compared to a less palatable meal, or they feel the opposite, or there is no difference. Whether palatability has an effect on appetite in the period following consumption of a test meal is unclear. Several studies have investigated which sensory properties of food are involved in sensory-specific satiety. Taste, smell, texture and appearance-specific satieties have been identified, whereas studies on the role of macronutrients and the energy content of the food in sensory-specific satiety have given equivocal results. Different studies have shown that macronutrients and energy content play a role in sensory-specific satiety or that macronutrients and energy content are not a factor in sensory-specific satiety. Sensory-specific satiety may have an important influence on the amount of food eaten. Studies have shown that increasing the food variety can increase food and energy intake and in the short to medium term alter energy balance. Further knowledge about the importance of flavour in appetite regulation is needed, for example, which flavour combinations improve satiety most, the possible connection between flavour intensity and satiety, the effect of persistence of chemesthetic sensation on palatability and satiety, and to what extent genetic variation in taste sensitivity and perception influences dietary habits and weight control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Appetite / physiology*
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / physiology*
  • Food*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Perception / physiology*
  • Satiation / physiology
  • Smell / physiology
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Taste / physiology


  • Sweetening Agents