Reduced taste responsiveness and increased food neophobia characterize obese adults

Cristina Proserpio, Monica Laureati, Cecilia Invitti, Ella Pagliarini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between two well-established markers of taste perception, 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) responsiveness and fungiform papillae number, in obese and healthy-weight subjects. The association between taste responsiveness and food neophobia attitude was evaluated to understand if these variables are linked to nutritional status of subjects. Forty healthy-weight (Body Mass Index: 22.67 ± 0.43 kg/m2) and forty-five obese (Body Mass Index: 37.57 ± 0.77 kg/m2) subjects were involved. PROP responsiveness and fungiform papillae number were positively correlated to each other in both groups of subjects (healthy-weight: r = 0.67, p < 0.001; obese: r = 0.83, p < 0.001). PROP responsiveness ratings and fungiform papillae number were significantly negatively correlated with food neophobia scores in both group of subjects (p < 0.01). Subjects characterized as significantly less sensitive and more neophobics had a higher Body Mass Index. Especially, obese men showed significant lower taste responsiveness (p < 0.05) and higher food neophobia scores (p < 0.05) compared to obese women and healthy-weight subjects, both sexes. The nutritional status of the subjects seems to be linked to taste responsiveness and food neophobic attitude. These data suggest that, between several factors which could play a role in the control of body weight, understand how sensory perception affects eating behavior could give important information to study variables which may determine food habits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-79
Number of pages7
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • BMI
  • Eating behavior
  • Fungiform papillae
  • Overweight
  • PROP
  • Sensory perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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