Background: Since food intake in part is motivated by preference and liking (Rozin et al.,
2006) a way to improve nutritional status in hematological cancer
patients might be by customizing food items to the patients’ preferences
in relation to taste, texture and temperature. Studies have been made
on the topic, but the results are inconsistent.
Aims: To identify the taste- and food
sensory preferences of adult hematological hospitalized cancer patients
at Herlev University Hospital, both within and without chemotherapy
treatment, through a quantitative questionnaire survey. To investigate
how the preferences vary according to different times of the day.
Method: Only patients with symptoms that
caused a reduction in appetite were included (Patient-Generated
Subjective Global Assessment; Bauer et al., 2002). Patients were
requested to answer the questionnaire twice the same day: at 10-11 A.M.
and at 01-02 P.M.. The questionnaire consisted of 42 food pictures of
Herlev Hospital meals (12 main food categories with 3 pictures in each
category), that had to be rated on a 5 point hedonic scale in relation
to wanting to eat the certain food (1= lowest wanting). Furthermore, the
questionnaire contained an open question regarding which food the
patients most wanted to eat, and how the texture, temperature and taste
of this food should be.
Results: 59 patients completed the questionnaire survey (59% males) with average age 67±14 years. 54 % (n=32) patients were in chemotherapy treatment. The overall wanting of foods in the morning (3.1) was significantly (p=0.002) higher than in the afternoon (2.8).
The highest preferences were shown for
fresh fruit (3.9), cheese (3.7), soup (3.7), mashed potatoes with bacon
(3.7) and ice cream (3.6). There was seen a significant difference in
the overall average wanting score among the 21-55 years old patients
(2.75) and 56-70 years old patients (3.09). Furthermore, there was
observed a significant difference when the texture of the foods was
divided in liquid, soft and foods with harder texture, with a
significantly higher (p = 0.014) wanting of liquid foods (3.3) compared
to harder foods (2.9). Also, a tendency to want soft foods (3.06) more
than hard (2.9) was observed.
The favorite foods could be categorized to three and included fresh cold drinks (46 % patients), traditional dishes (38 % patients) and easy light meals
(11 % patients). When patients were asked more specific questions
regarding the taste they wanted the most, 25 % of the petients answered
that the food they wanted should taste sweet, 12 % of the patient wanted
the taste of salt, and 12 % wanted the umami taste. Regarding
temperature, 23 % of the patients wanted something cold, but on the
other hand, 20 % wanted something warm, while a few patients wanted ice
cold (10 %), lukewarm or hot foods. No differences in any of the
preferences between patients within and without chemy therapy were
Conclusion: Hematological cancer patients
have preferences for foods with liquid textures. The preferred tastes
were sweet, salt or umami. Both warm and cold foods were preferred. The
food categories fresh drinks, easy foods and traditional foods
were found to be favorite. The patients' overall wanting for food was
significantly higher in the morning compared to the afternoon. All the
preferences were independent of the chemotherapy treatment status. Thus,
a food item to hematological cancer patients should be customized in
relation to the morning times, e.g. as an in-between snack before lunch.
- Rozin P., 2006. The Integration of Biological, Social, Cultural and Psychological Influences on Food choice. In: Shepherd,R., Raats,M. (Eds.), The Psychology of Food Choice. Biddles Ltd, Oxfordshire.
- Bauer, J., Capra, S., Ferguson, M., 2002. Use
og the scored Patient-Generated Subjective Global Assessment (PG-SGA)
as a nutrition assessment tool in patients with cancer., European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Number 56: 779-785.
Signe Loftager Okkels was doing her Master thesis on