Liquid supplements struggle in a boredom test

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Flavor Nutrition Taste

A new study exposing oral nutrition supplements (ONS) to a ‘boredom test’ has found that unpleasant taste and mouthfeel effects build up with repeat consumption, potentially increasing risk of poor compliance with high-volume prescriptions.

Success of ONS prescriptions may depend on consumption of significant quantities over extended time periods and yet patient compliance can be quite low.

Writing in Food Quality and Preference​, scientists at the University of Reading therefore sought to determine how repeat consumption affects perception of taste and texture.

The study employed three different groups including a trained sensory panel, a healthy older volunteer panel and a patient group to assess a standard commercial vanilla ONS, Ensure Plus by Abbot Nutrition, a sweetness suppressed version from the same range, and a control ONS.

The participants all had to score the liquid supplements across five attributes including sweet, metallic, soya milk flavour, mouthcoating, and mouthdrying. They had to give the drinks scores over consecutive tastings at regimented time intervals in what the Reading scientists called ‘the boredom test’.

Sensory build-up

One of the main overall conclusions of this investigation was that metallic taste, mouthcoating, and mouthdrying all built up as consumption volume increased. Crucially data from the healthy older volunteers and the patients suggested that this build-up was disliked.

Therefore the scientists came to the conclusion that: “Such build up may have major implications on the long-term, repeat consumption of these products, especially since patients are often encouraged to drink up to 600ml daily.”

They also said efforts to improve the palatability of ONS products must take into account the effects of repeat consumption and called for further research into the properties of ONS ingredients to uncover the causes of sensory problems that grow with consumption.

The work at the University of Reading was supported by Research into Aging (Age UK, a UK charity. The authors of the study also thanked Abbot Nutrition and Nestle Nutrition for supply of ingredients, samples and advice.

Source: Food Quality and Preference
The Effect of Consumption Volume on Profile and Liking of Oral Nutritional
Supplements of Varied Sweetness: Sequential Profiling and Boredom Tests
Authors: L. Methven, K. Rahelu, N. Economou, L. Kinneavy, L. Ladbrooke-Davis, O.B.Kennedy, D.S. Mottram, M.A. Gosney

Follow us


View more