Background: The modern food supply is often dominated by a large variety of energy dense, softly textured foods that can be eaten quickly. Previous studies suggest that particular oral processing characteristics such as large bite size and lack of chewing activity contribute to the low satiating efficiency of these foods. To better design meals that promote greater feelings of satiation, we need an accurate picture of the oral processing characteristics of a range of solid food items that could be used to replace softer textures during a normal hot meal.
Aim: The primary aim of this study was to establish an accurate picture of the oral processing characteristics of a set of solid savoury meal components. The secondary aim was to determine the associations between oral processing characteristics, food composition, sensory properties, and expected satiation.
Methods: In a within subjects design, 15 subjects consumed 50 g of 35 different savoury food items over 5 sessions. The 35 foods represented various staples, vegetables and protein rich foods such a meat and fish. Subjects were video-recorded during consumption and measures included observed number of bites, number of chews, number of swallows and derived measures such as chewing rate, eating rate, bite size, and oral exposure time. Subjects rated expected satiation for a standard 200 g portion of each food using a 100mm and the sensory differences between foods were quantified using descriptive analysis with a trained sensory panel. Statistical analysis focussed on the oral processing characteristics and associations between nutritional, sensory and expected satiation parameters of each food.
Results: Average number of chews for 50 g of food varied from 27 for mashed potatoes to 488 for tortilla chips. Oral exposure time was highly correlated with the total number of chews, and varied from 27 s for canned tomatoes to 350 s for tortilla chips. Chewing rate was relatively constant with an overall average chewing rate of approximately 1 chew/s. Differences in oral processing were not correlated with any macronutrients specifically. Expected satiation was positively related to protein and the sensory attributes chewiness and saltiness. Foods that consumed in smaller bites, were chewed more and for longer and expected to impart a higher satiation.
Discussion: This study shows a large and reliable variation in oral exposure time, number of required chews before swallowing and expected satiation across a wide variety of foods. We conclude that bite size and oral-sensory exposure time could contribute to higher satiation within a meal for equal calories.
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