Depending on the color of the dishes, picky eaters are put off by the food – Zoo House News
Academics have examined the effect of color on picky and non-picky eaters in a unique study.
Previous research has shown that the smell and texture of food can affect the taste of picky eaters, but little is known about other senses.
A team from the University of Portsmouth found that the color of the bowl in which food is served also affects taste perception.
The experiment involved nearly 50 people to measure their food neophobia, which is a reluctance to eat or try new foods. The participants, who were divided into picky and non-picky eaters, then sampled the same snacks served in red, white, and blue bowls.
Results showed that both perceived saltiness and food appeal were affected by color in the picky group, but not in the non-picky group.
Specifically, the snack in the red and blue bowls was rated saltier than in the white bowl and least desirable when served in the red bowl. In the UK, salty snacks are often sold in blue packaging and the team thinks this may explain some of the saltiness results.
dr Lorenzo Stafford, an olfactor (sense of smell) at the University of Portsmouth’s Department of Psychology, said: “Restricted diets can lead to nutritional deficiencies as well as health problems such as heart disease, poor bone health and dental problems. There are also social costs, as normally pleasant moments between family members can easily turn into stressful, anxious, and conflict-causing situations when picky eaters feel embarrassed or pressured to eat.
“It is therefore important to understand the factors that ‘push and pull’ this behavior.
Picky eating behaviors are usually categorized as restricted diet, specific food preparation, strong dislikes, and difficulty accepting new foods. A picky eater will generally eat fewer than 20 different foods over the course of their lifetime.
The paper, published in the Food Quality and Preference Journal, says this study is believed to be the first to provide insight into the interaction between color and taste perception in adult picky and non-picky eaters, and to show a difference in the way they do Color affects the perception of food in picky eaters.
It recommends further research to determine whether these findings extend beyond the foods and colorings tested here.
“This knowledge could be useful for those trying to expand their food repertoire,” added Dr. Added Stafford.
“For example, if you want to encourage a picky eater to try more vegetables that are known to be considered bitter, you could try serving them on a plate or bowl that is known to increase sweetness.
“Through further research, we could find ways that could help positively impact a person’s diet and, in turn, their mental and physical health.”
Materials provided by the University of Portsmouth. Note: Content can be edited for style and length.