Dietary taste patterns and diet quality of female nurses around the night shift

Mariëlle G. de Rijk, Jeanne H.M. de Vries, Monica Mars, Edith J.M. Feskens, Sanne Boesveldt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: Night shift workers are at risk of making poor food choices: e.g. sleep deprivation may lead to higher food intake with innate preferred tastes, such as sweet, savoury and fatty foods. Therefore, better insight in dietary taste patterns of night shift workers may improve the understanding of their food choices. Methods: This observational study assessed dietary taste patterns of 120 female night shift working nurses and compared them to 307 women of a reference population. Dietary intake, assessed with 24-h dietary recalls, was combined with a taste intensity database, including taste profiles of 557 foods. The contribution to the daily intake of 6 taste clusters was assessed: fat, neutral, sweet/fat, sweet/sour, salt/umami/fat and bitter. Results: During night shifts, nurses consumed a significantly higher energy percentage (en%) of ‘neutral’ (5.9 en%), ‘sweet/sour’ (8.1 en%) and ‘sweet/fat’ (6.5 en%) tasting foods and a lower en% of ‘fat’ (− 17.1 en%) and ‘bitter’ (− 2.1 en%) tasting foods than outside the night shift. They consumed a larger en% from foods with a ‘sweet/sour’ (1.9 en%) taste and a lower en% from foods with a ‘bitter’ (− 2.1 en%) taste than the reference population, irrespective of age, BMI and smoking status. A higher en% and gram% of ‘fat’ tasting foods and a higher gram% ‘fat/salt/umami’ tasting foods were associated with lower diet quality. Conclusion: Our results only partly support our hypothesis that nurses would select foods with more innate taste preferences. In addition, fat and savoury tasting foods were negatively associated with their diet quality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-524
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number2
Early online date6 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • Diet quality
  • Dietary patterns
  • Energy intake
  • Food preferences
  • Night shift
  • Taste


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