Taste perception and its effects on oral nutritional supplements in younger life phases

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Purpose of reviewThe current review summarizes the importance of taste perception with regard to acceptance of oral nutritional supplements (ONS) in young children. We also shed light on how basic tastes may influence the orosensory detection of ONS in the light of genetic variations, encoding for different taste modalities, particularly for sweet and bitter (and fat), in children.Recent findingsSingle nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) of bitter and sweet taste receptor genes, that is, respectively, TAS2R38 and T1R2/T1R3, may influence orosensory perception of ‘bitter-made-sweet’ ONS. The SNP of fat taste receptor gene, that is, CD36, might communicate with bitter taste perception. The emerging new sixth fat taste may interfere with obesity in children.SummarySweet and bitter taste modalities are innate cues, expressed by children from birth to adolescence, either by a strong preference or by food aversion. Sweet and bitter tastes also communicate with each other as sweeteners can mask bitter phenotype. The fat preference, encoded by specific lingual taste receptors, is also modulated, via its interaction with phenotype and genotype, by bitter taste. Sodium salts might interact with bitter taste. Finally, the taste modalities will impact on the intake of ONS in children as the taste phenotype changes in this population, irrespective to genotype.

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