Low Fat, Low Taste?

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Updated on May 05, 2014

Grade Level: 2nd - 4th; Type: Chemistry


To investigate if fats add to the flavor of food.

Research Questions

  • What are fats?
  • Does fat add flavor to foods?

Fat is an important part of a healthy diet that helps the brain and nervous system to develop correctly in children. Fats fuel the body. Unsaturated fats such as those found in olive oil, peanut oil, peanut butter, and tuna are healthy. Saturated fats such as those found in meat, butter, cheese, and milk can increase the risk of heart disease if eaten in excess. Trans fats such as those found in snack foods, fried foods, and baked goods also increase the risk of heart disease. So if some fats are unhealthy, why do people eat them? Is it because of the taste? In this investigation, a taste test is given between cookies using different types and amounts of fats.


  • 4 different types of chocolate sandwich cookies including non fat and low fat options
  • 4 large resealable plastic bags
  • marker
  • 10 volunteers
  • paper
  • pencil
  • paper cups
  • water or milk

Experimental Procedure

  1. Gather the necessary materials and volunteers.
  2. Label each plastic bag A, B, C, and D. Empty one type of cookie into each bag and record which type of cookie is in which bag. Keep this information along with the outside cookie packages away from your volunteers. You will need this information later once you have collected your data.
  3. Have each volunteer sample one cookie from each plastic bag and rank the cookies 1, 2, 3, and 4 by taste, 1 being the least favorite and 4 being the favorite. Record eachvolunteers preferences. Provide a cup of water or milk for each of your volunteers.
  4. Once you have collected the data from the volunteers, average each cookie’s rank.
  5. To find the average, add up the ranks and divide the answer by 10 (assuming 10 volunteers).
  6. Read the labels on each of the cookie packages. Note the amount of fat in each cookie.
  7. Compare the fat in each cookie to its ranking. Draw a conclusion based on the findings.

Terms/Concepts: ingredient: part of a mixture fats: nutrient in foods used to form tissues nonfat: made without fat or having the fat removed; Fats are necessary for good health, but too much fat can cause obesity. Americans consume too many unhealthy fats. Do fats really add to the taste of food?


“Learning about Fats” at http://kidshealth.org/kid/stay_healthy/food/fat.html “Dietary Fats: Know Which Types to Choose” by Mayo Clinic staff at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fat/NU00262 “Fatty Food Triggers Taste Buds, New Research Finds” at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011204073223.htm

“Can You Taste Fat In Your Food?” at http://www.thatsfit.com/2010/03/10/can-you-taste-fat-in-your-food/

Nancy Rogers Bosse has been involved in education for over forty years - first as a student, then as a teacher, and currently as a curriculum developer. For the last fifteen years she has combined a career in freelance curriculum development with parenthood - another important facet of education and probably the most challenging. Nancy lives in Henderson, Nevada with husband and their three teenagers.

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