Investigating age related changes in taste and affects on sensory perceptions of oral nutritional supplements
Kennedy, O. , Law, C., Methven, L., Mottram, D. and Gosney, M. (2010) Investigating age related changes in taste and affects on sensory perceptions of oral nutritional supplements. Age and Ageing , 39 (6). pp. 733-738. ISSN 0002-0729
To link to this article DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afq104
Background: sip feeds are oral nutritional supplements (ONSs) that are commonly prescribed to malnourished patients to improve their nutritional and clinical status. However, ONSs are poorly consumed and frequently wasted, with sweetness being identified as one of the factors leading to patients’ dislike of ONSs. Objectives: to investigate if age affects sweetness thresholds and if this impacts upon perceived sweetness intensity, hedonic (sweetness and overall) and ranked preference of ONS products. Design: prospective, observational. Subjects: thirty-six young adults (18–33 years) and 48 healthy older adults (63–85 years). Setting: Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences and the Clinical Health Sciences at the University of Reading. Methods: detection and recognition threshold levels, basic taste identification and ‘just about right’ level of sweetness were examined. Three ONSs (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry) and sucrose solutions were evaluated for hedonic sweetness, overall hedonic liking, sweetness intensity and rank preference. Results: significant differences were found in both sweetness detection and recognition thresholds (P = 0.0001) between young and older adults, with older adults more likely to incorrectly identify the taste (P = 0.0001). Despite the deterioration in sweetness sensitivity among the older adults, there were no significant differences found in sweetness intensity perceived for the ONS products presented (P > 0.05) when compared with the young adults. However, across both groups sweetness intensity was found to be correlated with overall product dislike across all flavour variants tested (R = 0.398, P = 0.0001). Conclusions: sweetness appears to be one of many factors contributing to the dislike of ONSs. Manufacturers are encouraged to reconsider the formulations of these products so that beneficial effects of ONSs can be delivered in a more palatable and acceptable form and wastage reduced.