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Development of a method to measure sensory perception in children at the European level



The 5-year multilevel epidemiological IDEFICS (Identification and prevention of dietary- and lifestyle-induced health effects in children and infants) study, launched under the Sixth Framework Programme of the European Commission, aims at counteracting the epidemic of dietary- and lifestyle-induced adverse health effects in children. To reveal possible links between overweight/obesity in childhood with taste sensitivity and taste preferences, special procedures were developed for application at the European level. This paper presents these newly developed procedures.


Testing procedures to assess taste sensitivity for sucrose, sodium chloride, caffeine and monosodium glutamate and taste preferences for sweet, flavour, salty, fatty and umami tastes were developed with 191 children from nursery schools and preschools in northern Germany. To assess test–retest reliability, Cohen's kappa was calculated.


The study shows that it is possible to assess taste sensitivity and taste preferences even in young children, provided the framework of the procedures applied is adapted to this scenario. Test–retest reliability was calculated for the procedures applied and the results show that they are very reliable for assessing taste preferences and taste sensitivity in young children.


It is possible to assess taste sensitivity and taste preferences even in young children, provided the methods applied are adapted to the special requirements that working with young children entail.

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This study was conducted as part of the IDEFICS study ( We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the European Community within the Sixth RTD Framework Programme Contract No. 016181 (FOOD). We also thank Mr Hermann Pohlabeln for his support in compiling the statistics.

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Correspondence to K Knof.

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Statement of ethics

We certify that all applicable institutional and governmental regulations pertaining to the ethical use of human volunteers were followed during this research. Approval by the appropriate ethics committee was obtained by the centres carrying out the fieldwork. Participating children did not undergo any study procedure before both they and their parents gave their consent for examinations, collection of samples, subsequent analysis and storage of personal data and collected samples. The children and their parents could consent to single components of the study while refraining from others.

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Knof, K., Lanfer, A., Bildstein, M. et al. Development of a method to measure sensory perception in children at the European level. Int J Obes 35 (Suppl 1), S131–S136 (2011).

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