Effects of Ethnicity on Taster Status


Jessica Smith

Date of Graduation

Summer 2007


Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Committee Chair

Lynette Goldberg


The population of older individuals with dysphagia is increasingly diverse. For many individuals with dysphagia, treatment includes the modificati of foods and liquids. Such modification alters taste, texture and palatability and adversely affects patient compliance. Knowledge of an adult's taster status may be an important variable in maximizing compliance. Taster status refers to the high (supertaster) or low (nontaster) intensity with which tastes are perceived. The purpose of this study was to determine if ethnicity plays a role in taster status. The number of fungiform papillae on the right anterior quadrant of the tongue of 18 young women from three different ethnic backgrounds (Caucasian, Asian, and African American) were counted. Results showed equal numbers of nontasters and supertasters in both Caucasian and Asian groups (African American participants were omitted from statistical analyses due to insufficent data). However, the curve of distribution was different for each enthic group, supporting the speculation that Asians are more likely to be super tasters than Caucasians. The possible adverse effects of nontaster status on diet are discussed in relationship to increased health risks, such as cerebrovascular disease, and the dysphagia that may result. Knowledge of taster status appears an important variable to investiage in the effective treatment of adults with dysphagia, particularly when these adults are from ethnically diverse backgrounds and compliance with a modified diet is necessary. Keywords: dysphagia, ethnicity, fungiform papillae, supertaster, nontaster, modified diet.


dysphagia, ethnicity, fungiform papillae, supertaster, nontaster, modified diet

Subject Categories

Communication Sciences and Disorders


© Jessica Smith