Time-intensity and reaction-time methodology applied to the dynamic perception and liking of bitterness in relation to body mass index

Food Res Int. 2018 Jul;109:606-613. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2018.05.011. Epub 2018 May 8.


There are very few studies which have considered perception temporality when relating perceived intensity and hedonic responses in relation to body mass index (BMI; kg/cm2). The aim of the present study was to determine the relationship between BMI with the dynamic perception and liking of bitter tasting solutions. For this purpose, two different categories of bitter products were applied: 6-n-propilthiouracil (PROP) solutions (0.010, 0.032 and 0.060 mmol/L) and commercial beverages (coffee, yerba mate infusion and grapefruit juice). The proposed methodology to evaluate perception and hedonic response was based on the measurement of reaction-time (R-T) and multiple-sip time-intensity (T-I) registers in people with a high BMI (25 < BMI < 30; overweight group) and a normal BMI (<25; normal-weight control group). The multiple-sip evaluation to describe perception of PROP solutions and liking of beverages was used as a more ecologically valid laboratory methodology to simulate a situation of usual consumption. In this sense, working with a multiple-sip design helped confirm that bitter taste has a cumulative effect since in every case the sip effect was significant when evaluating the maximum intensity; this effect was more important as the bitterness increased. Regarding the body weight group comparisons, the normal BMI group perceived bitter taste more intensely and the time to react to it was shorter (faster reaction) for both PROP solutions and the three beverages. Interestingly, even though the high BMI group rated the bitter taste as less intense, they had a lower level of acceptance than normal BMI. This result suggests that the hedonic rather than the sensory component might be playing a crucial role in the perception of bitter taste in individuals with high BMI.

Keywords: Acceptance; Bitter taste; Overweight; Reaction-time; Time-intensity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Coffee
  • Female
  • Food Preferences*
  • Fruit and Vegetable Juices
  • Humans
  • Ilex paraguariensis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / parasitology*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Philosophy
  • Propylthiouracil / administration & dosage
  • Reaction Time*
  • Taste Perception*
  • Taste*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Coffee
  • Propylthiouracil