The Effects of Acclimation to the United States and Other Demographic Factors on Responses to Salt Levels in Foods: An Examination Utilizing Face Reader Technology

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The aim of this study was to assess the role of extended time in the United States (as defined as a continuous period greater than two years; referred to hereafter as “US Acclimated”), as well as other demographic factors, on the level of net positive response of consumers to different salt levels in food samples. One hundred panelists were recruited, including 50 meeting our US acclimation criterion. Panelists assessed samples of potatoes with five different levels of salt concentrations, and the levels of their net positive responses were evaluated with FaceReader technology (Noldus). The data of our study showed a significant positive association between US Acclimated participants and the level of net positive response to samples with higher salt contents. This interaction remained statistically significant even when modeling the effects with consideration of race/ethnicity and gender. Another notable outcome was the unexpected significant interaction between gender and US acclimation in regards to evaluated positive response across all salt concentrations (US Acclimated females demonstrating substantially and significant higher levels of positive response than US Acclimated males). The association between living in the United States and showing more positive response to higher salt contents is consistent with many persistent characterizations of the eating habits in the United States, but it is not in fact well explained by the most recent data regarding the observed levels of average sodium consumption across worldwide geographical regions. The results of this study may be demonstrating evidence of underlying as-yet-unknown factors contributing to the responses of consumers to salt levels in foods. Further examination of these possible factors may well be warranted.



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