Hold that spoonful of sugar: Higher sweetness does not correlate with increased desire to consume Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • February 22, 2019
  • Jones, Lily
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Nutrition
  • Fisher, Abby
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Nutrition
  • Burger, Kyle
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Nutrition
  • Introduction: • Sugar sweetened beverages have been linked to obesity (Ruanpeng D. et al, 2017) and are increasingly prevalent in Western diet. • Humans are evolutionarily programmed draw pleasure from tasting sweetness (Drewnowski A. et al, 2012). • Aspects of hedonic valuation are complex; “liking” and “wanting” are separate concepts (Berridge K. C. et al, 2009). • Study aim: to determine if higher sugar content correlated with higher subjective ratings of fruit flavored beverages across hedonic domains. Methods: • Participants: 28 participants were recruited through email and word of mouth to rate palatability of fruit flavored beverages. • Beverages: Participants were presented with four flavors of fruit flavored beverage: Peach + Raspberry Zinger, Peach + Blueberry, Blueberry + Cherry Berry, and Raspberry Zinger + Mixed Berry Zinger. Prepared each flavor with three sweetness levels: unsweetened (0g/8oz), half-sweetened (13g/8oz), and fully sweetened (26g/8oz). • Data collection: Participants were administered a ¼ cup serving of each beverage. They tasted four beverages at a time, grouped according to sweetness levels. The order that beverages were presented was randomly assigned. Participants rated each beverage on a 1-10 scale on sweetness, pleasantness, willingness to consume, and desire to consume. Participants’ height and weight were recorded. Participants were paid $5 for their time. • Analysis: We completed a 2-tailed t-test to examine the difference in hedonic ratings between sweetness levels, averaging across ratings of each flavor. To correct for multiple comparison, we used a Bonferroni-corrected significance threshold (p<0.00625). Results: • There was a significant difference in the sweetness ratings from unsweetened to half-sweetened and from half-sweetened to fully-sweetened. • The ratings for pleasantness, willingness to consume and desire to consume were significantly different between unsweetened and half-sweetened. • No significant difference in the ratings for pleasantness, willingness to consume or desire to consume from half-sweetened to fully-sweetened. Conclusions: • When comparing half-sweetened beverage to fully sweetened beverage, ratings across hedonic domains decreased with added sugar. • Limitations of study include small sample size, low variability of BMI • Results suggest that participants did not prefer the fully sweetened beverages; instead, would rather consume a beverage with half as much sugar as a typical soda. • These results can be taken as a suggestion to beverage companies to lover the amount of sugar present in their drinks.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
Conference name
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Gillings School of Global Public Health. Spotlight on Student Research (2017: Chapel Hill, NC)

This work has no parents.