Changes in Food Neophobia and Food Preferences During a Weight Reduction Session: Influence of Taste Acuity on the Individual Trajectory

  • Marie-Odile Monneuse
  • Claude Marcel Hladik
  • Bruno Simmen
  • Patrick Pasquet


Food neophobia, the reluctance to taste novel food, is an adaptive food behavior in evolutionary terms with survival advantages. When measured by the declarative Food Neophobia Scale (FNS) it appears as a personality and heritable trait, thus susceptible to reduce the food repertory and to limit food variety consumption. Inducing changes in food neophobia would eventually overcome this risk. Furthermore, we know that PROP (6-n –propylthiouracil, a bitter chemical substance) sensitivity is genetically determined and can be used as a marker for food preference: greater PROP sensitivity is linked to a reduced consumption of vegetable and fruit consumption – as the foods taste bitter – which has health implications, and could lead to obesity. One study has shown a relationship between PROP sensitivity of Tunisian adults and their preferences and attitudes toward food. We investigated a possible mediation of taste acuity, (assessed using recognition thresholds for sucrose, citric acid, sodium chloride, and PROP) and supra-threshold perceived intensities for these substances on food preferences (assessed by food familiarity and liking questionnaire on different food categories) and FNS (assessed by using the FNS score) in the context of a 10-month residential weight reduction session (WRS) in massively obese adolescents. Taste acuity appeared to mediate behavioral food-related changes during the WRS. High taste acuity was associated with limited reduction in food neophobia whereas less sensitive subjects showed greater increase in the acceptability of healthy foods – especially fruits and vegetables – and greater reduction in food neophobia. Therefore, taste perception (and particularly PROP perception) appears to predict the magnitude of food-related behavioral change achieved during a WRS. A possible relation and/or superimposed effect of food neophobia and PROP sensitivity on food preference and food use are discussed. Application of these findings will be taken into consideration to start a diet program for obese subjects.


Food Preference Obese Adolescent Taste Perception Taste Sensitivity Food Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Body mass index


Centre for Disease Control


Food familiarity and liking questionnaire


Food neophobia scale

LAM scale

Labeled affective magnitude scale


Low-threshold tasters


Medium-threshold tasters







T1, T2

Beginning and end of the WRS


Visual analog scale


Weight reduction session



We are indebted to ML Frelut and N Rigal without whom this study couldn’t have been made.


  1. Bartoshuk LM. Chem Senses. 2000;25:447–60.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bell KI, Tepper BJ. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;84:245–51.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Blakeslee AF. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1932;18:120–30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention/National Centre for Health Statistics. CDC growth charts: The United States. Hyattsville: Department of Health and Human Services; 2000.Google Scholar
  5. Chiva M. Le doux et l’amer: Sensation gustative, émotion et communication chez le jeune enfant. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France; 1985.Google Scholar
  6. Cooke LJ, Haworth CMA, Wardle J. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;86:428–33.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Dinehart ME, Hayes JE, Bartoshuk LM, Lanier SL, Duffy VB. Physiol Behav. 2006;87:304–13.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dovey TM, Staples PA, Gibson EL, Halford CG. Appetite. 2008;50:181–93.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dong D, Jones G, Zhang S. BMC Evol Biol. 2009;9:12.Google Scholar
  10. Drewnowski A. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;72:1424–35.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Drewnowski A, Rock CL. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995;62:506–11.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Fisher R, Griffin F, England S, Garn SM. Nature. 1961;191:1328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fischer R, Griffin F, Kaplan, AR. Med Exp. 1963;9:151–67.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Fischer R, Knopp W, Griffin F. Drug Res. 1965;15:1379–82.Google Scholar
  15. Falciglia GA, Couch SC, Gribble LS, Pabst SM, Frank R. J Am Diet Assoc. 2000;100:1474–81.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Galloway AT, Lee Y, Birch LL. J Am Diet Assoc. 2003;103:692–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Goldstein GL, Daun H, Tepper BJ. Obes Res. 2005;13:1017–23.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hladik, C. M. (1988) — Seasonal Variations in Food Supply for Wild Primates. In : I. de Garine et G. A. Harrison (Eds.), Coping with Uncertainty in Food Supply. Clarendon Press, Oxford : 1–25.Google Scholar
  19. Hladik CM, Simmen B. Evol Anthropol. 1996;5:58–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hladik CM, In: I. de Garine et G. A Harison (eds.) Coping with Uncertainity in food supply. 1988;1–25.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hladik CM, Pasquet P, Simmen B. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2002;117:342–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hladik CM, Pasquet P, Danilova V, Hellekant G. CR Palevol. 2003;2:281–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hung HC, Joshipura KJ, Jiang R, Hu FB, Hunter D, Smith-Warner SA, Colditz GA, Rosner B, Spiegelman D, Willett WC. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2004;96:1577–84.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hong J-H, Chung J-W, Kim Y-K, Chung S-C, Lee S-W, Kho H-S. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 2005;99:711–715Google Scholar
  25. Kim U-K, Wooding S, Riaz N, Lynn B, Jorde LB, Drayna D. Chem Senses. 2006;31:599–611.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Knaapila A, Tuorila H, Silventoinen K, Keskitalo K, Kallela M, Wessman M, Peltonen L, Cherkas L F, Spector TD, Perola M. Physiol Behav. 2007;91:573–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Liu RH. J Nutr. 2004;134:3479S–85S.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. McAnally HM, Poulton R, Hancox RJ, Prescott J, Welch D. Appetite. 2007;49:700–3.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mascie-Taylor CGN, McManus IC, MacLarnon AM, Lanigan PM. Behav Genet. 1983;13:191–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Monneuse MO, Bellisle F, Louis-Sylvestre J. Physiol Behav. 1991;50:1111–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Monneuse MO, Rigal N, Frelut ML, Hladik CM, Marez A, Simmen B, Pasquet P. Appetite. 2008;50:302–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Montmayeur JP, Matsunami H. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2002;12:366–71.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nicklaus S, Boggio V, Chabanet C, Issanchou S. Appetite. 2005;44:289–97.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pasquet P, Monneuse MO, Frelut ML, Simmen B, Hladik CM. Intern J Ped Obes. 2007;2:242–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pasquet P, Oberti B, El Ati J, Hladik CM. Appetite. 2002;39:167–73.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Pliner P, Hobden K. Appetite. 1992;19:105–20.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Pliner P, Salvy SJ. In: Shepherd R, Raats M, editors. The psychology of food choice. Oxfordshire: CABI Publishing; 2006p. 75–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Potts HW, Wardle J. Appetite. 1998;30:79–92.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Reedy FE, Bartoshuk LM, Miller IJ, Duffy VB, Yanagisawa K. Chem Senses. 1993;18:619.Google Scholar
  40. Reed DR, Tanaka T McDaniela AH. Physiol Behav. 2006;88:215–26.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Reverdy C, Chesnel F, Schlich P, Koster EP, Lange C. Appetite. 2008;51:156–65.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rigal N, Frelut ML, Monneuse MO, Hladik CM, Simmen B, Pasquet P. Appetite. 2006;46:207–14.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rozin P, Vollmecke TA. Annu Rev Nutr. 1986;6:433–56.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Simchen U, Koebnick C, Hoyer S, Issanchou S, Zunft HJF. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2006;60:698–705.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Simmen B, Pasquet P, Hladik CM. In: Macbeth H, MacClancy J, editor. Researching food habits: methods and problems. Oxford: Berghahn Books; 2004. p. 87–99.Google Scholar
  46. Skinner JD, Carruth BR, Bounds W, Ziegler PJ, Reidy K. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2002;34:310–5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tepper BJ. Am J Hum Genet. 1998;63:1271–6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Tepper BJ, Koelliker Y, Zhao L, Ullrich NV, Lanzara C, d’Adamo P, Ferrara A, Ulivi S, Esposito L, Gasparini P. Obesity. 2008;16:2289–95.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Turnbull B, Matisoo-Smith E. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;76:1101–5.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Ullrich NV, Touger-Decker R, O’Sullivan-Maillet J, Tepper BJ. J Am Diet Assoc. 2004;104:543–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Yeomans MR, Mobini S, Chambers LC.Physiol Behav. 2007;92:831–839.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wooding S. Genetics. 2006;172:2015–23.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Zhao L, Kirlmeyer SV, Tepper BJ. Physiol Behav. 2003;78:625–33.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie-Odile Monneuse
    • 1
  • Claude Marcel Hladik
  • Bruno Simmen
  • Patrick Pasquet
  1. 1.Centre National de la Recherche ScientifiqueUMR CNRS/MNHN 7206: Eco-Anthropologie et Ethnobiologie, Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle Département HNS - CP135Paris Cedex 05France

Personalised recommendations