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Association between physical activity and taste

The advantage of increased intensity for some but not all individuals


  • Alexandre-Charles Gauthier
  • François Dupont
  • Marie-Eve Mathieu Université de Montréal



Physical Activity, Frequency, Duration, Chemosensory, Sex, Obesity


Introduction: Taste is a key sensory modulator of energy intake, and while the effects of acute physical activity (PA) on taste have been recently confirmed, its chronic effects remain poorly documented.

Methods: Data were extracted from the NHANES database, including salty and bitter taste tests, moderate PA (MPA) and vigorous PA (VPA) levels, and anthropometric data. Binary logistic regressions were conducted, and odds ratios (ORs) represent the association between physical activity level and successful taste tests.

Results: 3,114 participants (51.5% women, mean age 58.5±11.9 years, mean BMI 29.5±7.0 kg/m2) were analyzed. For the tongue tip test, the frequency of VPA was associated with a better score for the bitter and total taste test, while duration of VPA was associated with a better score for the bitter, salty, and total taste test (OR [1.01-1.06], p<0.05). For the whole mouth test, MPA frequency improved the bitter taste score (OR=1.06, p=0.01) while VPA frequency and duration were associated with better scores for bitter, salty, and total taste tests (OR [1.01-1.15], p<0.05). These findings were distinctively influenced by weight status and gender, with males and individuals without obesity mainly beneficiating from an active lifestyle.

Perspectives: This study underlines the link between PA, particularly its frequency and intensity, and improved taste preservation. These findings emphasize the potential benefits of regular VPA for optimizing taste perception, although questions remain regarding the advantages for individuals with obesity and the lack of association observed in women who might already have a preserved profile.


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