Menstrual cycle and dietary restraint influence taste preferences in young women


Previous reports indicate that some women increase their consumption of sugar and fat premenstrually. To ascertain whether this is due to differences in taste acuity for sweetness and fatness and/or preference across the menstrual cycle, 25 female and 12 male undergraduates rated the pleasantness, sweetness, and fatness of 16 taste stimuli made of dairy products with varied fat contents (0%, 3.5%, 10%, 36%) and sucrose (0%, 5%, 10%, 20%) over 4 consecutive weeks. There was a marked decline in ratings over the 4 weeks of testing. Taste preferences of women were not uniform across the menstrual cycle. Those who began testing during the luteal and menstrual weeks had increased preference ratings compared to those who began during the follicular or ovulatory weeks. Preference ratings for taste stimuli containing 0% and 5% sucrose were lower in women with higher scores on a restraint of eating scale, than for women with lower scores. No differences in sweetness or fatness ratings were observed across the menstrual cycle, or as a function of dietary restraint. Men had increased preference for taste stimuli containing 10% and 20% sucrose compared to women; however, no differences in ratings of either sweetness or fatness were found as a function of gender. These data indicate that taste preference in women is not homogeneous across the cycle. Instead, many factors, including the menstrual cycle and degree of eating restraint, influence preference ratings. © 1994.

Publication Title

Physiology and Behavior