Higher fungiform papillae density (FPD) has been associated with lower taste sensitivity thresholds and greater perceived taste intensity along with consumption of fewer fruit and vegetables (FV). Children exposed to greater variety of FV tend to habitually consume more FV, however, it is unknown whether exposure effects are attenuated by individual differences in FPD or whether these effects vary according to sensory properties of FV. This study examined the links between children's FPD, current variety of FV consumed, and past experiences with variety of fruit and vegetables. FPD counts were obtained from 61 children between 5 and 9 years old, in schools from affluent areas of Birmingham (UK). Parents completed food frequency questionnaires indicating the variety of FV consumed by children in the last 7 days. Parents also indicated the number of different FV types the children had tasted in their lifetime. FV were subdivided to reflect differences in their sensory properties. The results showed that children with higher FPD who in their lifetime had tasted a greater variety of FV ate a larger variety of FV compared to children with higher FPD, but with lower past exposure. When examining effects within specific subcategories of fruits and vegetables, this pattern held for non-astringent fruit and showed a trend for non-bitter vegetables. Children with lower FPD consumed similar variety of FV irrespective of past experiences with variety of FV. The results suggest that when strong or irritant sensory food properties are not a barrier to intake, higher FPD in the presence of supportive home food environment may be beneficial for FV intake. Individual phenotypic differences may affect responsiveness to environmental factors in children's intake of FV.
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- Fungiform papillae
- Dietary exposure