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The Association of Taste with Change in Adiposity-Related Health Measures


      The relationship between taste-intensity patterns and 5-year change in adiposity-related health measures was determined. Participants were members of the Beaver Dam Offspring Study, a study of the adult children of participants in the population-based Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study. There were 1,918 participants (mean baseline age=48.8 years; range=22 to 84 years) with baseline taste (2005 to 2008) and follow-up (2010 to 2013) data. Outcomes included 5-year change in body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure, non–high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and glycosylated hemoglobin A1c, and hedonic ratings of specific foods. Cluster analysis with Ward's minimum variance method identified the following 5 patterns of the suprathreshold taste intensities of salt, sweet, sour, and bitter: salt and sweet intensities slightly above population averages, average sour and bitter intensities; salt, sour, and bitter intensities above population average, average sweet intensity; salt, sour, and bitter intensities above population average, sweet intensity substantially above average; all intensities below population averages; and all intensities close to population average. The General Linear Model procedure was used for testing cluster differences in the outcomes. With covariate adjustment, the group with all intensities close to population averages had a significantly lower average increase in body mass index compared with the group with above-average intensities for salt, sour, and bitter (+0.4 vs +0.9), and in glycosylated hemoglobin A1c compared with the group with above-average intensities for all tastes (+0.20% vs +0.34%). Clusters differed in the hedonics of foods representing sweetness and saltiness. The study's findings provide evidence that perceived taste intensity might be related to changes in adiposity-related health.


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      M. E. Fischer is an assistant scientist, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison.


      C. R. Schubert is a researcher, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison.


      A. Pinto is an associate researcher, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison.


      B. E. K. Klein is a professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison.


      R. Klein is a professor, Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison.


      K. J. Cruickshanks is a professor, Departments of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Population Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison.


      G.-H. Huang is chairman and a professor, Institute of Statistics, National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu, Taiwan.


      J. S. Pankow is a professor, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.