Taste hedonics is a well-documented driver of food consumption. The role of sweetness in directing ingestive behavior is largely rooted in biology. One can then intuit that individual differences in sweet-liking may constitute an indicator of variations in the susceptibility to diet-related health outcomes. Despite half a century of research on sweet-liking, the best method to identify the distinct responses to sweet taste is still debated. To help resolve this issue, liking and intensity ratings for eight sucrose solutions ranging from 0 to 1 M were collected from 148 young adults (29% men). Hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) revealed three response patterns: a sweet-liker (SL) phenotype characterized by a rise in liking as concentration increased, an inverted U-shaped phenotype with maximum liking at 0.25 M, and a sweet-disliker (SD) phenotype characterized by a decline in liking as a function of concentration. Based on sensitivity and specificity analyses, present data suggest the clearest discrimination between phenotypes is seen with 1.0 M sucrose, where a liking rating between −15 and +15 on a −50/+50 scale reliably distinguished individuals with an inverted U-shaped response from the SLs and the SDs. If the efficacy of this approach is confirmed in other populations, the discrimination criteria identified here can serve as the basis for a standard method for classifying sweet taste liker phenotypes in adults.
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