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A bitter sweet asynchrony: the relation between eating attitudes, dietary restraint on smell and taste function

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Research has demonstrated that individuals with eating disorders have an impaired sense of smell and taste, though the influence of eating attitudes, dietary restraint and gender in a non-clinical sample is unknown. In two studies (study 1: 32 females, 28 males; study 2: 29 females) participants completed questionnaires relating to Eating Attitudes (EAT) and dietary restraint (DEBQ) followed by an odour (study 1: isoamyl acetate, study 2: chocolate) threshold and taste test. In study 2 we also measured the number of fungiform papillae taste buds. Study one revealed that increases in pathological eating attitudes predicted poorer olfactory sensitivity (males/females) and lower bitterness ratings for the bitter tastant (females only), suggestive of poorer taste acuity. In study two we found that both eating attitudes and restraint predicted poorer sensitivity to an odour associated to a forbidden food (chocolate) and that increasing eating attitudes predicted higher sweetness ratings for the bitter tastant. Interestingly increases in restraint were associated with an increased number of fungiform papillae which was not related to bitter or sweet intensity. These findings demonstrate that in a young healthy sample that subtle differences in eating pathology and dietary restraint predict impaired olfactory function to food related odours. Further that perception of bitter tastants is poorer with changes in eating pathology but not dietary restraint.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-36
Number of pages6
JournalAppetite
Volume70
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013

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