How colour influences taste perception in adult picky eaters

Madison Annette, Lorenzo Stafford*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Picky eating is characterized by a limited intake and avoidance of foods which can increase health risks, including nutritional deficiencies and health related disease. It is therefore important to understand the factors that act to ‘push and pull’ such picky eating behaviour. Previous research has demonstrated that the smell and texture of food can affect taste perception in picky eaters, but little is known about other multisensory attributes. In the study here, we aimed to examine whether colour influences perception of food in picky eaters. Participants (N = 47) were categorized as Picky or Non-Picky Eaters on the basis of their responses to a standardized measure of Food Neophobia (FNS). They then completed a taste sensitivity test (PROP) followed by a food tasting task, where they sampled the same snack served in three different coloured (red, blue, white) bowls. Results revealed that both the perceived saltiness and desirability of the snack were influenced by colour in the Picky but not Non-Picky Eaters. Specifically, the snack was rated as higher in saltiness in the red and blue versus white bowl condition and least desirable when served in the red bowl. These findings are discussed with reference to more specific measures of categorising picky eating and provide preliminary evidence that the perception of food in Picky Eaters depends on the serving receptacle colour and offer potentially simple interventions for those with a restricted food repertoire.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104763
Number of pages7
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Early online date23 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • picky eaters
  • food neophobia
  • multisensory
  • colour perception
  • eating behaviour


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