Taste is frequently cited as an important factor in food choice, and while a number of studies have attempted to identify relationships between taste function and dietary intake, a systematic review of these studies has been lacking. This review identified studies that examined associations between taste function or taste perception and dietary intake. The purpose was to determine which taste measure was most closely associated with dietary intake in healthy adults. Studies that measured some component of dietary intake, either acutely or longer-term, were eligible for inclusion. Studies were grouped into three categories: those that measured sensitivity (thresholds), intensity, or hedonic responses to sweet stimuli. Sensitivity and intensity studies demonstrated little association with dietary intake measures. Hedonic measurements were more likely to be associated with dietary intake, especially if sweet likers were analyzed separately from sweet dislikers, but the degree of heterogeneity among stimulus concentrations and dietary measures as well as small sample sizes likely obscured more consistent relationships between hedonic evaluation and dietary intake. Due to the potential for within-day and between-day variability in both taste function and dietary intake, future work should explore obtaining more than one taste measurement before comparing results to longer-term dietary assessments and attempts to standardize methods.
Keywords: diet; intensity; liking; nutrition; psychophysics; sweet taste; threshold.