Taste preferences and food intake

Annu Rev Nutr. 1997:17:237-53. doi: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.17.1.237.


Sensory responses to the taste, smell, and texture of foods help determine food preferences and eating habits. However, sensory responses alone do not predict food consumption. The view that a "sweet tooth" leads to obesity through excess sugar consumption is overly narrow. In reality, there are multiple links between taste perceptions, taste preferences, food preferences, and food choices and the amount of food consumed. Taste responses are influenced by a range of genetic, physiological, and metabolic variables. The impact of taste factors on food intake further depends on sex and age and is modulated by obesity, eating disorders, and other pathologies of eating behavior. Food preferences and food choices of populations are further linked to attitudinal, social, and--probably most important--economic variables such as income. Nutrition education and intervention strategies aimed at improving population diets ought to consider sensory pleasure response to foods, in addition to a wide range of demographic and sociocultural variables.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Dietary Fats
  • Eating*
  • Food Preferences*
  • Humans
  • Obesity
  • Taste / physiology*


  • Dietary Fats