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Title:Evaluation of sweet taste perception in habitual and non-habitual consumers of low-calorie sweeteners
Author(s):Petty, Sara Anne
Advisor(s):Pepino, M. Yanina
Department / Program:Food Science & Human Nutrition
Discipline:Food Science & Human Nutrition
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):sweet taste
low-calorie sweeteners
Abstract:Introduction: It is estimated that close to 50% of adults in the US consume low-calorie sweeteners (LCS), with increased consumption associated with higher body weight and an intent to lose weight. Previously thought to be metabolically inert, recent findings suggest that LCS may be impacting glucose regulation and could cause decreased insulin sensitivity in some consumers. Though exact mechanisms of these effects are unclear, it is possible that these changes in glucose regulation may be mediated by LCS-related changes in the signaling of sweet taste receptors (STRs) located in both the oral cavity and throughout the GI tract. The stimulation of these STRs can impact the rate of glucose absorption in the intestine and the release of insulin and GLP-1 to help regulate glucose and satiety. Because LCS bind to STRs with greater affinity and efficiency than sugars, it is proposed that frequent LCS exposure could result in desensitization or downregulation of STRs. In this project, we explored associations between LCS consumption and sweet taste perception, but we propose that our findings may inform potential studies on effects of LCS consumption on extraoral STRs. Specifically, we hypothesized that habitual LCS consumers will experience a blunted sweet taste perception, prefer higher concentrations of sweetness, and adapt faster or to a greater degree when repetitively tasting sweet stimuli compared to non-habitual LCS consumers. A secondary aim of the study was to understand the benefits of combining sucralose with glucose (as is found in commercially available Splenda packets), as opposed to another sugar (fructose). We hypothesized that there will be more advantages for the sweet taste profile when sucralose is combined with glucose than with fructose. Methods: Taste perception of various concentrations of sugars (glucose and fructose) and sucralose (the most widely used LCS in the US), alone or in combination with these sugars were assessed in 44 adults, 25 non-habitual consumers (i.e. consumed less than one LCS product per week) and 19 LCS habitual consumers (i.e. consumed more than 5 LCS products per week). Taste intensity was assessed by using the general labeled magnitude scale (gLMS) and sucrose and sucralose preferences by using the Monell 2-series forced choice tracking procedure. We also examined sweetness adaptation to sucralose alone and in combination with glucose and fructose by presenting repeated solutions in 10-second intervals without rinsing in between. To control for specificity in potential associations between sweet taste perception and LCS consumption, we also briefly assessed taste intensity perception of all basic qualities. Finally, as an exploratory aim, participants completed eating behavior questionnaires, including the Food Craving Inventory and Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire and were asked to select reasons why they choose to consume (or not consume) LCS to evaluate potential differences in eating behaviors between these two groups. Results: Overall, taste perception did not vary significantly between LCS consumer groups for any of the basic qualities. However, we found a trend for habitual consumers to perceive 475 mM fructose as less sweet (p=0.06) and to prefer a higher concentration of sucralose (p=0.08) than non-habitual consumers. The addition of a negligible amount of glucose (sweetness perceived as below barely detectable) significantly enhanced the sweetness of 0.6 mM sucralose (p=0.01). This enhancement was not seen with the addition of fructose (45 mM), but both glucose and fructose helped to lessen the rapid adaptation observed when repeatedly tasting sucralose without rinsing. Both glucose and fructose tasted sweeter after adapting to a sucralose solution, but this effect was prevented when the sucralose solution contained a negligible amount of fructose. Groups did not differ in their frequency of food cravings or the influence of emotional or external eating on eating behavior, but there was a trend for habitual consumers to engage in more restrained eating than non-habitual consumers (p=0.08). Conclusions: Though our results did not reach statistical significance, they suggest that LCS consumption may blunt sweet taste perception and studies with larger sample sizes are needed. If taste reception in the oral cavity is blunted as a result of habitual LCS consumption, future studies could explore these effects on extraoral receptors and the potential connection between these receptors and metabolic dysregulation.
Issue Date:2021-04-20
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Sara Petty
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-09-17
Date Deposited:2021-05

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