To compare flavoring agents added to activated charcoal (AC) to determine which mixture is most palatable to children.
Healthy volunteers between the ages of 3 and 17 years participated in a prospective masked trial. Five identical pitchers were prepared containing AC alone, AC with chocolate milk, AC with Coca-Cola (Coca-Cola Corp, Atlanta, Ga), AC with cherry-flavored syrup, and AC with sorbitol. Subjects tasted all 5 substances in random order. Children younger than 8 years rated taste on a 10-point Faces Scale. Children 8 years and older used a 100-point visual analog scale to rate taste and, separately, ease of swallowing. All children were asked which mixture was best. Ratings were compared using 1-way analysis of variance, and comparisons for all pairs were made using the Tukey test. P<.05 was considered significant.
Mean age among the 53 children enrolled was 8.3 years; 23 children were younger than 8 years. Girls made up 52% of the group. Taste scores for chocolate milk, Coca-Cola, and cherry-flavored syrup were significantly better than those for no flavoring agent. The scores for ease of swallowing for Coca-Cola, chocolate milk, and cherry-flavored syrup were significantly better than those for either no flavoring agent or sorbitol. When asked to choose a single best flavoring agent, 39% chose chocolate milk, 23% picked Coca-Cola, and 23% chose cherry-flavored syrup.
The addition of chocolate milk, Coca-Cola, or cherry-flavored syrup to AC improves palatability for children and is favored over no flavoring agent or sorbitol.