The importance of taste on dietary choice, behaviour and intake in a group of young adults

Appetite. 2016 Aug 1:103:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.03.015. Epub 2016 Mar 10.


The 'taste of food' plays an important role in food choice. Furthermore, foods high in fat, sugar and salt are highly palatable and associated with increased food consumption. Research exploring taste importance on dietary choice, behaviour and intake is limited, particularly in young adults. Therefore, in this study a total of 1306 Australian university students completed questionnaires assessing dietary behaviors (such as how important taste was on food choice) and frequency of food consumption over the prior month. Diet quality was also assessed using a dietary guideline index. Participants had a mean age of 20 ± 5 years, Body Mass Index (BMI) of 22 ± 3 kg/m(2), 79% were female and 84% Australian. Taste was rated as being a very or extremely important factor for food choice by 82% of participants. Participants who rated taste as highly important, had a poorer diet quality (p = 0.001) and were more likely to consume less fruit (p = 0.03) and vegetables (p = 0.05). Furthermore, they were significantly more likely to consume foods high in fat, sugar and salt, including chocolate and confectionary, cakes and puddings, sweet pastries, biscuits, meat pies, pizza, hot chips, potato chips, takeaway meals, soft drink, cordial and fruit juice (p = 0.001-0.02). They were also more likely to consider avoiding adding salt to cooking (p = 0.02) and adding sugar to tea or coffee (p = 0.01) as less important for health. These findings suggest that the importance individuals place on taste plays an important role in influencing food choice, dietary behaviors and intake.

Keywords: Food choice; Influences; Nutrition; Taste; Taste importance; Young adults.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Healthy* / ethnology
  • Diet, Western / adverse effects*
  • Diet, Western / ethnology
  • Feeding Behavior* / ethnology
  • Female
  • Food Preferences* / ethnology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice* / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritional Sciences / education
  • Patient Compliance* / ethnology
  • Sensation
  • Students
  • Taste
  • Universities
  • Victoria
  • Young Adult