The development of salty taste acceptance is related to dietary experience in human infants: a prospective study

Monell Chemical Senses Center, Philadelphia, PA 19104-3308, USA.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Impact Factor: 6.92). 01/2012; 95(1):123-9. DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.111.014282
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Sodium intake is related to hypertension and other diseases, but little is known about the early development of salty taste acceptance.
The prospective study asked whether dietary experience with foods containing sodium is associated with development of infant salty taste preference.
Infants (n = 61) were tested at 2 and 6 mo to assess their response to 0.17 and 0.34 mol NaCl/L in water. Intake tests consisted of randomized double-blind 120-s exposure to salt solutions and water. Acceptance, calculated as solution intake relative to water, was examined as a function of exposure to starchy table food-a significant source of sodium. Dietary exposure (yes or no) was defined by maternal report. As a control, similar comparisons were based on exposure to fruit table food. A subset of 26 subjects returned at 36-48 mo for assessment of salty taste hedonics and preference.
Dietary experience was related to salt acceptance, with only those infants previously exposed to starchy table foods (n = 26) preferring the salty solutions at 6 mo (P = 0.007). Fruit exposure was not associated with sodium chloride acceptance. Infants eating starchy table foods at 6 mo were more likely to lick salt from the surface of foods at preschool age (P = 0.007) and tended to be more likely to eat plain salt (P = 0.08).
The findings suggest an influential role of early dietary experience in shaping salty taste responses of infants and young children.

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