Majority of Austrian children cannot distinguish tastes: study

May 15th, 2008 - 11:59 am ICT by admin  

Vienna, May 15 (DPA) Three out of four children aged between 10 and 13 are unable to distinguish between basic flavours sweet, sour, bitter and salty, a study by an Austrian university found recently. Only 27.3 percent of children recognised all flavours while 23.6 percent recognised only one, researchers from Vienna’s University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences said.

In addition, 8.1 percent of the children did not recognise any flavour.

The results were significantly lower than those achieved by adults or university students in similar surveys.

The researchers said they established a possible connection between a fast food diet and the seemingly degenerating taste buds of Austria’s children.

The test results of students, who said that they never or almost never ate fast food, were “significantly better” than those who regularly consumed fast food.

Children from rural regions and students in grammar schools scored better results than children from urban regions and secondary schools.

Better results were achieved by those who consumed less white bread and ate fruits and vegetables regularly, the study said.

Not surprisingly almost three-quarters of the testers could determine the flavour “sweet”, while only 44.9 percent were able to recognise salty flavours.

Again, students who said they preferred neutrally-flavoured drinks were far better at identifying sweet flavours than those with a sweet tooth. Only 63 percent of children who liked sweet drinks could identify the flavour, compared to 83 percent of those who preferred less sugary drinks.

In the study commissioned by AMA, Austria’s marketing agency for farm produce, 385 children from all over the country were tested by using sniffer tests with 11 different flavours and flavoured liquids.

There was a close link between bad eating habits and bad results in the flavour and smell identification tests, the study authors said.

But in order to pin down a causal relationships more studies, including examining possible genetic factors influencing taste perception and eating habits, were necessary, they added.

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