Liking the odour, liking the food: Toddlers’ liking of strongly flavoured foods correlates with liking of their odour.
Sommaire de l'article
Olfaction plays a significant role in the sensing of foods at all stages of human development. However, surprisingly little information is available at any age on the relationship between the hedonic responses to given food odours and the effective liking and disliking of foods bearing these same odours. The present study aimed to assess the relationships between food odour liking and liking of the corresponding foods. This study relied on a longitudinal design involving 235 toddlers who were assessed for both their observed liking of a set of food odours and their parent-reported liking of foods at two key ages, 12 and 22 months, for the establishment of the food repertoire. To assess odour liking, 8 odorants representing pleasant and unpleasant foods were presented in bottles along with neutral stimuli. The participants' behaviour towards the odorized and control bottles was measured in terms of mouthing, a behaviour considered to reflect interest and attraction. For each odorant, odour-liking scores were calculated relative to the control. The participants' food liking was rated by the parents at the periods 12-15 and 21-24 months. Positive correlations were found between the odour-liking scores for some of the odours and the liking of the associated foods. These correlations concerned foods with strong, unpleasant flavours at 12 months only, suggesting that the olfactory system acts as an 'alarm' system during this period of food transition. At 22 months, no significant correlations were found, except a marginal one for green vegetables. Whatever the age, no significant correlations were found for pleasant odours. Thus, some correlations were found between the observed odour liking for food-related odours and the liking for the corresponding foods reported by parents. However, these relationships are subject to developmental fluctuations depending on the hedonic nature of the odorants and the age when infants are tested.