Predictors and correlates of taste preferences in European children: The IDEFICS study

Anne Lanfer, Karin Bammann, Kolja Knof, Kirsten Buchecker, Paola Russo, Toomas Veidebaum, Yiannis Kourides, Stefaan De Henauw, Dénes Molnar, Silvia Bel-Serrat, Lauren Lissner, Wolfgang Ahrens

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11 Citations (Scopus)


The present study investigated taste preferences in a sample of 1705 children aged 6 to 9 years from survey centres in Italy, Estonia, Cyprus, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Hungary, and Spain and aimed to identify factors correlated with taste preference. Children's preferences for varying levels of sucrose (sweet) in apple juice and fat, sodium chloride (salt) and monosodium glutamate (umami) in crackers were assessed using paired-comparison tests. Socio-demographics (age, sex, parental education), early feeding practises (breastfeeding, introduction of fruits), parenting behaviour (TV viewing, using food as a reward) and taste threshold sensitivity for sucrose (sweet), sodium chloride (salt), caffeine (bitter) and monosodium glutamate (umami) were investigated as possible correlates of taste preferences. Parents reported on sociodemographics, early feeding and parenting behaviour. Taste thresholds were determined via a pairedcomparison staircase method. Country of residence was the strongest factor related to preferences for all four tastes. Taste preferences also differed by age. Preference for sugar and salt increased between 6 and 9 years of age while preference for monosodium glutamate decreased. The age differences remained significant even after adjustment for sex, country of residence, parental education and early feeding habits. Sex, parental education, early feeding habits, TV viewing, using food as a reward and taste thresholds were not consistently related to taste preferences among the survey centres. In summary, the results highlight the importance of culture and age in taste preferences in children younger than 10 years of age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-136
Number of pages9
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2013



  • Age
  • Children
  • Cross-cultural comparison
  • Europe
  • Taste preference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

Cite this

Lanfer, A., Bammann, K., Knof, K., Buchecker, K., Russo, P., Veidebaum, T., Kourides, Y., De Henauw, S., Molnar, D., Bel-Serrat, S., Lissner, L., & Ahrens, W. (2013). Predictors and correlates of taste preferences in European children: The IDEFICS study. Food Quality and Preference, 27(2), 128-136.