Researchers investigated the impact of posture on the perception of food taste.
Outdoor meetings and picnics are a common occurrence in the summertime. More often than not, attendees eat and drink while standing, chatting or carrying an object.
Physical motion as simple as carrying an object or mere standing, are forms of stress and can reduce blood flow back to the heart and the brain. A physiological process that increases the heart rate and forces the heart to pump harder in order to push more blood back to the body, exerting stress on the heart and the Vestibular system. The vestibular system is responsible for the perception of body position, (posture such as standing vs sitting) and motion, which can be stimulated by changes in gravity and head movement.
Researchers at the University of South Florida, found a relationship between the sense of taste and body posture, particularly with standing and sitting. In a recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, experts investigated the overall perception of food taste and how standing or sitting may impact the taste and flavor.
A total of 350 participants were divided into two groups, standing versus sitting. Each group was first given pita chips and later brownies to taste. Those who were standing rated the pita chip to have less flavor than those who were sitting on a chair. Participants who were sitting down rated the brownies to have a more delicious taste than those standing, but when the brownies were made unpleasant with more salt, those standing preferred the taste, while those sitting rated the brownies as unpleasant.
Impact of sitting vs standing on the sense of taste and flavor
The researchers suggested that standing caused some physical stress to the consumers and reduced their sense of taste and perception of flavor while sitting made the food taste better. This was thought to be related to stress hormones released from the brain, which affected how the food was perceived with regards to taste, flavor, temperature, and volume.
In another experiment, participants were given shopping bags to hold while snacking on fruit bars. Both sitting and standing participants reported unpleasant taste while holding on to this extra load. Again, this was thought to be due to the stress hormones from the brain, particularly cortisol.
Impact of sitting vs standing on the quantity consumed
The researchers also provided participants with cups of hot coffee. Those standing up felt the intensity of the heat less than those sitting down, however, those standing drank less coffee than those sitting down. This suggested that physical stress, like standing, reduces appetite and may be beneficial for long-term weight loss goals, given that standing helped reduce the amount of food and drinks consumed being consumed.
The overall impact of posture on the perception of taste
This study demonstrated that standing or carrying a load can reduce the taste and flavor of food or drinks perceived by the consumer, suggested to be due to physical stress exerted on the body.
Written by Ijeoma C.Izundu, MBBS
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Extending the Boundaries of Sensory Marketing and Examining the Sixth Sensory System: Effects of Vestibular Sensations for Sitting versus Standing Postures on Food Taste Perception. Journal of Consumer Research.
Press release: Posture impacts how you perceive your food. Available from: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-06/uosf-pih060619.php
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