Comment »Posted on Thursday 18 December 2008 at 2:23 pm by Jacob Aron
In Biology, Psychology

Oh all right then, a better sense of taste. This is just one of many revelations emerging from a Danish study which also found that one in three schoolchildren prefer soft drinks which are not sweet, and 70% of them like fish. Ok, it’s hardly world-changing science, but I’m more interested in the way the results were collected. The study was a joint effort between Danish Science Communication, The Faculty of Life Sciences (LIFE) at University of Copenhagen, and 8,900 Danish schoolchildren.

Rather than just being willing volunteers for the study, the kids were active participants in the research, as part of the Danish natural science festival. Schools were sent kits of taster samples and instructions on how to conduct experiments, the goal of which were to measure the ability of children to identify sweet and sour tastes of various concentrations in order to establish which they prefer and how many tastebuds they have.

Bodil Allesen-Holm, was head of the project and is in charge of the Sensory Laboratory at the Department of Food Science at LIFE. He was particularly impressed with the way the children carried out their investigations:

“What is most surprising is that the results are so clear and of such a high quality,

“The trends are very clear in all the answers from the many primary and secondary schools; the pupils and teachers have been very thorough and accurate.”

As for the results themselves it seems that although boys and girls have roughly the same number of taste buds, the girls are better at recognising tastes, with boys requiring an average of around 10% more sourness and 20% more sweetness to detect the taste. The researchers suggest that the food interest should take these findings into account, and develop more varied foods in order to accommodate different (wait for it…) tastes.

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