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Salivary amylase and sweet food preference

13 / 02 / 19


This pilot study found lower salivary amylase levels correlate positively with greater preference for foods high in sugar, and may influence body composition, particularly in women. This enzyme may be a factor modulating eating behaviour.


Salivary α-amylase (sAA) influences perception of taste and texture, and low copy number of this gene has been linked to a greater risk of obesity. This is the first study to investigate the relationship between basal sAA and food preference. Researchers collected saliva samples from 57 volunteers (39 females, 21 males) and then assessed their food preferences and cardiovascular risk markers. The foods were categorised into high starch, high sugar, hi GI (glycemic index) and high GL (glycemic load). 

Regression analysis showed basal sAA is inversely associated with subjective but not self-reported preferences for high sugar foods (low sAA associated with high subjective preference for high sugar foods, and vice versa).

Additionally, sAA and subjective preference are associated with cardiovascular risk markers:

A significant correlation was found between sAA and waist-hip ratio (WHR) and body adiposity index (BAI) when the sexes were combined but when analysed separately only the correlation for women remained.

In women, self-reported preferences for foods high in sugar, high GI and high GL were positively correlated with BMI and percentage body fat (%BF), while in men high sugar preference was negatively correlated with BMI and %BF.


Tarragon E, Stein J, Meyer J. Basal levels of salivary amylase are associated with preference for foods high in sugar and anthropometric markers of cardiovascular risk. Behav Sci (Basel). 2018 Oct 16;8(10). pii: E94. doi: 10.3390/bs8100094.