Dietary taste patterns in early childhood: The Generation R Study

Anh N. Nguyen, Astrid W.B. van Langeveld, Jeanne H.M. de Vries, M. Arfan Ikram, Cees de Graaf, Monica Mars, Trudy Voortman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Taste preference is an important determinant of dietary intake and is influenced by taste exposure in early life. However, data on dietary taste patterns in early childhood are scarce. Objectives: We aimed to evaluate dietary taste patterns in early childhood, to examine their tracking between the ages of 1 and 2 y, and to examine their associations with socioeconomic and lifestyle factors. Methods: Dietary intake of children participating in a population-based cohort was assessed with a 211-item age-specific FFQ at the ages of 1 y (n = 3629) and 2 y (n = 844) (2003–2007). Taste intensity values of FFQ food items were calculated based on a food taste database that had been previously constructed and evaluated using a trained adult sensory panel. Cluster analysis based on taste values identified 5 taste clusters that we named: “neutral,” “sweet and sour,” “sweet and fat,” “fat,” and “salt, umami and fat.” Linear regression models were used to examine associations of percentage energy (E%) intake from these taste clusters with socioeconomic and lifestyle factors. Results: At the age of 1 y, 64% ± 13% (mean ± SD) of energy intake was obtained from the “neutral” cluster, whereas at age 2 y, this was 42% ± 8%. At age 2 y, children had higher energy intakes from the “sweet and fat” (18% ± 7%), “fat” (11% ± 4%), and “salt, umami, and fat” (18% ± 6%) clusters than at age 1 y (7% ± 6%, 6% ± 4%, and 11% ± 6%, respectively). In multivariable models, older maternal age, longer breastfeeding duration, and later introduction of complementary feeding were associated with more energy from the “neutral” cluster (e.g., β: 0.31 E%; 95% CI: 0.19, 0.43 E% per 1 mo longer breastfeeding). Higher child BMI was associated with more energy from the “salt, umami, and fat” cluster (β: 0.22 E%; 95% CI: 0.06, 0.38 E% per BMI standard deviation score). Conclusions: Dietary taste patterns in this Dutch cohort were more varied and intense in taste at age 2 y than at 1 y, reaching a level similar to that previously observed in Dutch adults. Important factors related to dietary taste patterns of young children are maternal sociodemographic factors and feeding practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-69
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2020


  • Child nutrition
  • Dietary patterns
  • Infancy
  • Infant diet
  • Population-based
  • Taste
  • Tracking


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