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Girls have better sense of taste than boys


London : Girls have a better sense of taste than boys, while every third child prefers unsweetened soft drinks.

Children and young people love fish and do not think of themselves as being fussy eaters but boys have a sweeter tooth than girls. And schoolchildren in northern Denmark have the most developed taste buds.

These are the findings of the world’s largest study on the ability of children and young people to taste and what they like. The study was conducted jointly by Danish Science Communication, food scientists from The Faculty of Life Sciences (LIFE) at University of Copenhagen and 8,900 Danish schoolchildren.

One of the many findings shows that girls are generally better at recognising tastes than boys. They are better at recognising all concentrations of both sweet and sour tastes.

The difference is not dramatic, but it is quite clear. It is also a known fact that women generally have a finer sense of taste than men.

One of the reasons why it was possible to include so many children and young people in the study was that the experiment itself was conducted in quite an unorthodox way: It was planned as a ‘mass experiment’ in conjunction with this year’s natural science festival at Danish primary and secondary schools.

All the participating groups of children were sent a complete kit of taster samples and very detailed instructions, and then conducted the experiment as part of their natural science classes.

The various tests were designed to quantify the ability of children and young people to discover and recognise sweet and sour tastes at varying intensities, to establish which sourness or sweetness they prefer, how many taste buds they have.

The children also answered a number of questions on their eating habits and fussiness over food.

“What is most surprising is that the results are so clear and of such a high quality,” said Bodil Allesen-Holm, a food technologist and head of the project and Sensory Laboratory at the Department of Food Science at LIFE.

“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.”

According to Allesen-Holm, the results provide food for thought for both the food industry – and for parents: “It is quite clear that children and young people are very good tasters, and that there are bigger variations between them than most people would expect,” said a Copenhagen University statement.

“This experiment has focussed on taste alone, while future studies will include more sensory aspects such as smells and appearance to provide a more all-round understanding of Danish children’s preferences,” said Wender Bredie, professor of Sensory Science at LIFE.