Do Healthy Diets Differ in Their Sensory Characteristics? A Seminar with Dr David Cox

For our June seminar, the Food Values Research Group is pleased to present:

Do Healthy Diets Differ in Their Sensory Characteristics?

Dr David Cox, Senior Research Scientist, CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences

The relationship between sensory characteristics of foods, healthy diets and weight status is not well established (Cox et al, 2016); however, knowledge could assist in better understanding food choices and identifying strategies for modifying diets. The objectives of this study were to understand the sensory characteristics of core and discretionary foods and beverages that form the basis of the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (AGHE) and to explore differences by demographics, weight status and diet quality (diet score).

Data were captured using a freely available online validated CSIRO Diet Score (Diet Score) tool (www.csirodietscore.com; Hendrie et al, 2017) from 145,975 Australian consumers recruited through media releases in partnership with a private healthcare provider (SP Health).  Participants answered 38 questions on frequency and quantity of foods consumed. Sensory characteristics of 105 foods and beverages representative of 27 food groups in the AGHE were described (using a trained sensory panel) in terms of basic tastes, flavour strength and four textures, including fatty mouthfeel (fatty), derived from the validated Sensory-Diet tool (Lease et al, 2016).  Average sensory scores (weighted by frequency of consumption) were calculated for each food group question.

Higher Diet Score was associated with greater sweet and bitter taste.  There were no clear differences in fatty mouthfeel but salty taste tended to be lower with higher Diet Score.  Overall flavour intensity increased with diet score suggesting healthy diets, contrary to popular beliefs, are not bland.  For the first time the sensory characteristics of foods pertaining to recommended healthy diets can be described.  Consumers, industry and public health could utilise such knowledge to help facilitate diets associated with reduced risk of chronic disease.

David Cox is a senior research scientist and Group Leader of the Sensory and Behavioural Sciences at CSIRO Animal, Food and Health Sciences, Adelaide, Australia. He is also a project leader with the CSIRO Preventative Health Flagship, Obesity Theme with a focus upon the determinants of obesity. Since obtaining a PhD in the Faculty of Medicine (Human Nutrition) at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, University of London, he has focused upon food choice and acceptance (Behavioural Nutrition) both in terms of product choice and dietary choice. As a Post-Doc at the Institute of Food Research, UK he focused upon psycho-social predictors of fruit & vegetable consumption and undertook clinical trials focused at changing consumption. Later he looked at sensory drivers of food choice and the implications for weight status. During his current appointment at CSIRO, Australia he has undertaken research work in Asia and published numerous articles on cross-cultural methodology. Other work includes risk perception applied to acceptance of novel food technologies. He has published more 60 papers in peer reviewed journals and three book chapters (Food Choice; Understanding Asian consumers and Meal patterns of Australian women). His Group is strongly involved with cross-disciplinary Obesity and Metabolic Health projects including understanding the determinants of obesity and designing effective interventions. Personal interests include sensory and contextual drivers of dietary choice and the acquisition of liking of vegetables (nutrient rich, low energy dense foods). He is in demand as a reviewer for journals including Appetite, Food Quality and Preference (Editorial Board member); Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (Editorial Board member), International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical activity and many others.

When: Wednesday, 14th of June, 1-2 PM

Where: Ira Raymond Room, Barr Smith Library, North Terrace Campus, University of Adelaide (click here for campus map)

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