Background: Excessive exposure to high-salt foods may change the taste perception, which results in the overconsumption of sodium. The present study aimed to investigate the effects of liking or frequent eating of high-salt food on salt taste perception among schoolchildren.
Methods: The detection threshold of sodium chloride (NaCl) and the preferred salinity of beansprout soup were determined and were used to represent the salt taste acuity and preference, respectively, of 70 Koreans aged 12-13 years. A self-administered questionnaire was used to obtain information regarding food preferences or frequency of eating certain high-salt Korean dishes, Westernised fast foods and commercially-prepared foods, as well as various food groups. The significance of differences in taste perceptions was assessed in relation to the reported liking, and frequency of eating, high-salt foods. In addition, the correlation between taste perception and the liking or frequency of eating fast foods was also assessed.
Results: The participants who reported a liking for soup/stew had significantly higher thresholds for NaCl (P = 0.029), and frequent users of fast-food restaurants showed a preference for significantly saltier soup (P = 0.010). The preferred salinity was associated significantly with a high preference for pizza (r = 0.282, P = 0.018) or hamburgers (r = 0.305, P = 0.010) and the frequent consumption of pork cutlets (r = 0.239, P = 0.046) or hamburgers (r = 0.461, P = 0.010).
Conclusions: The results obtained in the present study suggest that the frequent consumption of certain fast foods by young teenagers may be associated with an increased preference for salt taste. This study provides basic information for use in devising education programmes in evidence-based nutrition to reduce salt intake.