Embargoed for Release
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
1:30 p.m. EST
Robin Latham or Jennifer Wenger
NIDCD Office of Health Communication and Public Liaison
Early dietary experience shapes salt preference of infants and preschoolers
For decades, public health initiatives have encouraged people to put less salt in their foods and to check packaged foods for sodium content, but many people still consume too much salt. In this NIDCD-funded research, investigators at the Monell Chemical Senses Center report that babies exposed early to starchy, salty foods will develop a greater preference for salty taste, by as early as six months of age, than will infants who have not been given salty foods. The exposed babies consumed 55 percent more salt than their unexposed peers during a preference test. This preference is shown to last into the preschool years, where exposed children are more likely to consume plain salt. These findings indicate the significant role of early dietary experiences in shaping taste preferences that last into childhood and could potentially influence taste preferences in adults.
Stein L, Cowart B, Beauchamp, G, “The development of salty taste acceptance is related to dietary experience in human infants: a prospective study,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online December 22, 2011
James F. Battey, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, is available to address the significance of the findings and their implications for public health.
NIDCD supports and conducts research and research training on the normal and disordered processes of hearing, balance, smell, taste, voice, speech and language and provides health information, based upon scientific discovery, to the public. For more information about NIDCD programs, see the website at www.nidcd.nih.gov.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.