The study – published in Flavour – investigates how consumers perceive subtle changes in a drink's viscosity, and the extent to which a thick texture and creamy flavour contribute to the generation of satiety expectations.
Led by Keri McCrickerd from the University of Sussex, UK, the research team manipulated the texture and flavour of a fruit yoghurt drink, finding that even small manipulations in texture and flavour can play an important role the expectation that the product will be filling and suppress hunger – regardless of actual calorific content.
“Hunger and fullness are complicated issues because it is not just the calories in a food or drink that make it filling,” explained McCrickerd. “Signals from the stomach are important but so too is how the drink feels in the mouth.”
“In our study both creamy flavour and texture affected expected fullness, but only thickness seemed to affect whether hunger was expected to be satisfied,” she said.
McCrickerd and her team performed two tests to assess the influence of texture and flavour on satiety. In the first, they found that participants were able to perceive small changes in drink viscosity that were strongly related to the actual viscosity of the drinks.
In the second, they found that thick versions of the drinks were expected to be more filling and have a greater expected satiety value – independent of the drink's actual energy content.
They added that creamy flavours enhanced the extent to which the drink was expected to be filling, but did not affect its expected satiety.
Low calorie satiety
McCrickerd and her colleagues added that this information may be of particular use in low calorie and weight management foods, which can often cause problems to consumers because they often do not feel full after consumption
“This may be because thick texture is a characteristic of food that we associate with being full,” explained the lead researcher, who added that consumer expectations are important for manufacturers to understand.
She said the new research results show that consumers are sensitive to very subtle changes in oral sensory characteristics, “and that thick texture and creamy flavour can be manipulated to enhance expectations of fullness and satiety regardless of calories.”
The team also suggested that enhancing the texture of high-energy drinks, so that they are more satiety relevant “may be one way to increase their weak satiating capacity.”
“These findings also highlight the importance of matching sensory characteristics, such as texture, in studies that manipulate the energy density of foods or the sensory context of energy-matched products,” they added.
Source: Flavour Journal
Published online, open access, doi: 10.1186/2044-7248-1-20
“Subtle changes in the flavour and texture of a drink enhance expectations of satiety”
Authors: Keri McCrickerd, Lucy Chambers, Jeffrey M Brunstrom and Martin R Yeomans