Astringency and other oral sensations : biological sources of individual variation and association with food and beverage behaviour
Bajec, Marth R.
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Orosensory perception strongly influences liking and consumption of foods and beverages. This thesis examines the influence of biological sources of individual variation on the perception of prototypical orosensory stimuli, food liking, self-reported alcohol liking and consumption, and indices of health. Two orosensory indices were examined: propylthiouracil (PROP) responsiveness, a genetically-mediated index of individual variation associated with enhanced responsiveness to orosensory stimuli often expressed as PROP taster status (PTS); and thermal taster status (TTS), a recently reported index of orosensory responsiveness. Taster status in PTS and/or TTS confers greater responsiveness to most orosensory stimuli. Gender, age, ethnicity, and fungiform papillae (FP) density were not associated with orosensory responsiveness to tastants, an astringent, and a flavour. Unlike PROP responsiveness, FP density was not associated with TTS. Both PROP responsiveness and TTS were associated with increased responsiveness to orosensory stimuli, including temperature and astringency. For PROP, this association did not hold when stimuli were presented at cold or warm temperatures, which are ecologically valid since most foods and beverages are not consumed at ambient temperature. Thermal tasters (TTs), who perceive 'phantom' taste sensations with lingual thermal stimulation, were more responsive to stimuli at both temperatures than thermal non-tasters (TnTs). While PTS, TIS, and gender affected self-reported liking and consumption of some alcoholic beverages, gender associated with the greatest number of beverage types and consumption parameters, with males generally liking and consuming alcoholic beverages more than females. Age and gender were the best predictors of alcoholic beverageAiking and consumption. As expected, .. liking of bitter and fatty foods and cream was inversely related to PROP responsiveness. TTS did not associate with body mass index or waist circumference, and contrary to previous studies, neither did PROP responsiveness. Taken together, TnTs' greater liking of cooked fruits and vegetables and high alcohol, and astringent alcoholic beverages than TTs suggests differences between TTS groups may be driven by perceived temperature and texture. Neither an interaction between PTS and TTS nor a TTS effect on PROP responsiveness was observed, suggesting these two indices of individual variation exert their influences on orosensory perception independently.