Desire to eat and intake of ‘insect’ containing food is increased by a written passage: the potential role of familiarity in the amelioration of novel food disgust

Maya R Gumussoy*, Chloe Macmillan Macmillan, Stephanie Bryant, David Hunt, Peter J Rogers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

Over two studies we investigated the effect of various written interventions (passages) on the disgust response towards a food (falafels) which supposedly contained mealworm (insect) flour. Actually, participants (Study 1 N = 80, Study 2 N = 78) were given the same non-mealworm containing food in all conditions. Disgust was measured using: tactile sensitivity, food intake, liking and desire to eat. Results of Study 1 showed that a sustainability passage (sustainability advantages of entomophagy), but not a delicacy passage (oro-sensory qualities of insects), was effective in reducing disgust. In Study 2, contrary to prediction, a passage describing the sustainability and nutritional advantages entomophagy failed to reduce disgust - falafel intake, liking and desire to eat were decreased. However, a passage which described how mealworm flour is produced, did significantly reduce disgust. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that written passages can alter the disgust response, notably resulting in a maintenance of food intake. Interventions that increase the perception of familiarity of a novel food, but not logic-based arguments, may be a key driver of the amelioration of disgust. These results also support the suggestion that altering the ideational component of disgust can result in changes of distaste perception.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105088
Number of pages12
JournalAppetite
Volume161
Early online date30 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
80 volunteer students and staff members from the University of Bristol (n?=?57, 71% female and n?=?23, 29% male. Age: M?=?21.6, SD?=?4.2 years. BMI: M?=?22.7, SD?=?3.3?kg/m2) participated in this study in exchange for a free lunch and a chocolate bar. This sample size (n?=?20 per group) was based on the assumption that disgust would have a similarly large effect on desire to eat and liking of a tasted food to the effects of consuming a small meal on these measures, observed in previous studies of food reward (Rogers & Hardman, 2015). To prevent a bias in selection towards those interested in trying insect containing food, the advert merely stated that the study was investigating willingness to try ?world foods?. Exclusion criteria for this study included being vegan or vegetarian, being on a diet to lose weight, having any allergies or intolerances, not having a good understanding of English and not being willing to expose the underside of their forearm for the purpose of measuring tactile sensitivity. The study was granted ethical approval by the University of Bristol Faculty of Science Research Ethics Committee (approval code: 43241). All participants gave informed consent before the study began.78 members of the public participated (n = 55, 70% female and n = 23, 30% male. Age: ranged from 18 to 24 years, 47.4% to 65+ years, 1.3%. BMI: M = 23.6, SD = 3.8 kg/m2) in this laboratory study in exchange for monetary reimbursement. This sample size (n?=?26 per group) was determined by power analysis using an effect size (d?=?1.0) calculated from the desire to eat data in Study 1. Participants were recruited via an advert on the University webpage and through the research group mailing list. Participants were all non-vegan or vegetarian, did not have any food allergies or intolerances and were not on a diet to lose weight. The study was granted ethical approval by the University of Bristol Faculty of Science Research Ethics Committee (approval code: 22031861441). All participants gave informed consent before the experiment began.This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. MG contributed to the manuscript while in receipt of ESRC SWDTP PhD scholarship funding.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd

Structured keywords

  • Physical and Mental Health
  • Nutrition and Behaviour

Keywords

  • Entomophagy
  • Disgust
  • Novel food
  • Tactile Sensitivity
  • Food Neophobia
  • Familiarity

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