Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Tolar-Peterson, Terezie T.

Committee Member

Tidwell, Diane K.

Committee Member

Wei, Tianlan

Committee Member

Cheng, Wen-Hsing

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion


Taste is one of the crucial factors that contributes to shaping eating behaviors and is also one of the leading reasons that affects our preferences to like or dislike some foods that mainly have a bitter taste. Variation in bitter phenotype (tasters and non-tasters) could influence diet quality and in turn body weight, which overall influenced health outcomes. The objective of this study was to identify whether bitter taste phenotype status influences anthropometric measurements, body fat percentage, and eating behaviors (liking and intake) in female college students. In this cross-sectional study (n = 86), female college students aged 18 to 22 from Mississippi State University were classified into one of two groups (taster or non-taster) by means of a taste test of filter paper saturated with the bitter compound 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP). Adiposity was measured using anthropometric measurements and body composition was measured using bioelectrical impedance analysis. A food liking survey was administrated to identify how much participants liked or disliked various foods and beverages. Dietary intake of total energy intake, macronutrients, fruits, and vegetables were evaluated using the NIH Diet History Questionnaire. Bitter phenotype status was not significantly associated with adiposity indicators; however, it was associated with food liking scores for foods that have bitter and umami tastes such as kale and mushrooms. Additionally, bitter phenotype was associated with dietary intake for total fruits and vitamin C intakes. Ethnic background was the strongest independent variable that was significantly correlated with adiposity indicators and food liking. These results suggested that while bitter taste phenotype may influence eating behaviors in certain foods, it does not affect adiposity indicators and body fat percentage.