Most people eat what doesn't taste good

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When it comes to choosing everyday foods, it's not just the taste that matters

Food is almost abundant in the western industrialized nations. A few decades ago, people had to spend at least 60 percent of their household income on food, today it is just 10 percent on average. Still, most people eat foods that they don't like at all.

Scientist from the Heidelberg Dr. Rainer Wild-Foundation presented the first results of their representative taste research study. In their research, they investigated the question of whether people also eat things that they actually don't like. The first evaluation results already showed that 81 percent of the Germans surveyed eat foods that do not meet their individual taste preferences. In the further course it became clear that the taste is only one of many evaluation criteria for selecting foods for eating.

Every day millions of consumers wonder what they eat today for lunch, dinner, at school or at work. During the day, most of them are away from home due to their professional or school activities. When people are asked why they eat something, most say that taste plays a crucial role. Therefore, one could actually assume that most consumers only eat what they actually like. But Dr. Lisa Hahn and Karolin Höhl from Dr. Rainer Wild Foundation made an amazing finding based on the survey results. According to this, four out of five consumers do not eat what corresponds to their personal taste perception in everyday life.

38 percent said they generally don't like the foods they eat every day. 28 percent stated that the dishes were not satisfactory in the preparation and for 19 percent the dishes were not flavored according to their individual taste. This raises the question of why people eat what they don't seem to like.

Prepared dishes that the study participants did not like came mostly from restaurants, fast food outlets, fast food outlets or canteens. The taste researchers were particularly surprised that 73 percent continued to eat, even though they did not like the food they were eating. Two out of five of the participants said that they even consumed the food entirely, even though it did not taste good. Was hunger driving the food in, or did the interviewees not have time for the special selection of dishes? The survey showed that many people eat meals that they don't like at all. "The good taste may be important," said Dr. Gesa Schönberger, managing director of the Foundation for Healthy Nutrition, "However, it is often not the decisive factor." Why in such a wealthy society as ours, food that doesn't taste good will be one of the most interesting questions in the further course of the study. "We want to use this to uncover the actual relevance of taste and thus get closer to our everyday food," said Schönberger.

The social framework allows a high-quality selection of healthy and valuable dishes that taste good. Nevertheless, obesity and metabolic diseases such as diabetes are continuously increasing. The studies will answer some of the open questions in the future. The first findings were presented at the 15th Heidelberg Nutrition Forum at the end of September. (sb)

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Image: Thorsten Freyer /

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