Predictors of food preferences in adult humans

Appetite. 1986 Jun;7(2):109-25. doi: 10.1016/s0195-6663(86)80012-5.


Predictors of preferences for a wide variety of foods were examined in 303 male and female human subjects ranging from 14-68 years of age. The subjects completed questionnaires which requested information on the subject's sex, age, thinness, sensation seeking and ethnic background, as well as on the subjects' food preferences. Largely consistent with previous studies, female subjects reported higher preferences for low-calorie foods, candy and wine, and lower preferences for meat, beer, spicy foods and milk. Younger subjects reported higher preferences for sweet foods and lower preferences for foods such as chili pepper that are considered acquired tastes. Thinner subjects tended to rate both sweet foods and meat lower than did other subjects. Preferences for spicy foods or foods likely to cause illness were positively correlated with sensation seeking while preferences for sweet or bland foods or foods unlikely to cause illness were negatively correlated with sensation seeking. Subjects for whom the primary cuisine on which they were raised was Oriental cuisine preferred alcoholic beverages and non-Oriental foods less than did other subjects. A factor analysis of the food preferences yielded ten factors including those for meat and potatoes, alcohol, spices and junk food. Data on predictors of food preferences can assist research on the determinants of food preferences, however much of the variance in food preferences remains to be explained.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Food Preferences*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires