Impact of short sensory education on odour and taste perception of school children in Austria

Dorota Majchrzak, Maria Altmann

The sensory education has potential in activating children’s chemosensory awareness which may lead to more healthy and balanced eating habits.

The aim of this study was to assess the effect of a short sensory training (two units, each 50 minutes) on odour and taste perception in school children (n=69; aged 6-11 years) from an elementary school of Vienna.

The survey was structured in four steps: baseline measurement of the children’s smell and taste skills, sensory training consisting of child-oriented theoretical sensory inputs combined with memorizing of odour and taste qualities, follow-up-measurement 1 (after one week) and 2 (after one month).

The sense of smell was measured with 16 Sniffin´ Sticks (Burghart Company). The taste skills were evaluated by recognition test for the five basic tastes according to DIN-standard 10961.

At baseline approximately 10%, at 1st and 2nd follow-up-measurement about

50 % of the children identified 12 or more out of 16 presented odours. Orange, banana, fish and peppermint were the most recognised odours (>80% of all subjects identified them at each session), while apple seemed to be the most difficult to identify.

After sensory training the children identified significantly (p<0.05) more tastes than at the baseline. No differences were seen in the performance between 1st and 2nd follow-up-measurement. At both time points 60% of the subjects recognised half or more of the offered aqueous solutions of five stimuli versus 36% at the baseline. In all sessions, order of identification was sour, followed by sweet, salty and bitter. Umami proved to be the most difficult taste to recognise.

The present study shows that the sensory training improved significantly (p<0.05) the children’s odour and taste perception. Consequently children aged 6-11 years are ready to start a sensory education program which may strengthen them to become more consciously future consumers.

Department für Ernährungswissenschaften
ÖFOS 2012
303009 Ernährungswissenschaften
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