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Nutrition and Food Sciences


Background: The impact of feeding a slightly sweet nutrient supplement early in life on later sweet taste preference is unknown.

Objective: We tested the hypothesis that the level of sucrose most preferred by 4–6-y-old children exposed to a slightly sweet lipid-based nutrient supplement (LNS) early in life would not be higher than that of children never exposed to LNS.

Design: We followed up children born to women (n = 1,320) who participated in a randomized trial in Ghana. In one group, LNS was provided to women on a daily basis during pregnancy and the first 6 mo postpartum and to their infants from age 6 to 18 mo (LNS group). The control groups received daily iron and folic acid or multiple micronutrients during pregnancy and the first 6 mo postpartum, with no infant supplementation (non-LNS group). At age 4–6 y, we randomly selected a subsample of children (n = 775) to assess the concentration of sucrose most preferred using the Monell 2-series, forced-choice, paired-comparison tracking procedure. We compared LNS with non-LNS group differences using a noninferiority margin of 5% weight/volume (wt/vol).

Results: Of the 624 children tested, most (61%) provided reliable responses. Among all children, the mean ± SD sucrose solution most preferred (% wt/vol) was 14.6 ± 8.6 (LNS group 14.9 ± 8.7; non-LNS group 14.2 ± 8.4). However, among children with reliable responses, it was 17.0 ± 10.2 (LNS group 17.5 ± 10.4; non-LNS group 16.5 ± 10.0). The upper level of the 95% CI of the difference between groups did not exceed the noninferiority margin in either the full sample or those with reliable responses, indicating that the LNS group did not have a higher sweet preference than the non-LNS group.

Conclusion: Exposure to a slightly sweet nutrient supplement early in life did not increase the level of sweet taste most preferred during childhood. This trial was registered at as NCT00970866.

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