Fatty foods

Sensitivity to fatty foods may impact obesity

A study published in Appetite shows that people who do not taste fat in food are more likely to overeat, adding weight to the growing body of research that points to a connection between fat taste and obesity.

Lead by Professor Russell Keast, the researchers with Deakin University’s Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research have found that people who can’t taste the fat in foods eat significantly more at lunch after having a high-fat breakfast than those who can taste fat.

For the study, the participants’ (n = 24) sensitivity to fat taste was tested. Then, over four separate days, they ate a high-fat, high-carbohydrate, high-protein breakfast and were provided with a buffet-style lunch where they ate a variety of foods until comfortably full. Measurements of energy consumed at lunch were recorded as was the participants’ perceived hunger and fullness.

The researchers found that following the high-fat breakfast, subjects with impaired fatty acid chemoreception (n = 10) consumed significantly more energy and grams of food at lunch compared to other subjects. There were no significant differences in energy, grams of food consumed at lunch, and perceived satiety between subjects for the other breakfasts. They concluded that impaired oral fatty acid chemoreception was associated with excess energy consumption following a high-fat meal.

This latest research builds on Keast’s previous work that found fat is part of the tongue’s taste range (along with sweet, salt, sour, bitter, and umami) and supports conjecture that the ability to taste fat is associated with development of obesity.

“It is becoming clear that our ability to taste fat is a factor in the development of obesity,” said Deakin’s Professor Russell Keast. “We know that people have a taste threshold for fat. Some people have a high sensitivity to the taste and are likely to eat less fatty foods, while others are less sensitive and cannot taste fat and are more likely to overeat fatty foods.”

Journal Reference:

Impaired oral fatty acid chemoreception is associated with acute excess energy consumption

Russell SJ Keast, Kaylee M Azzopardi, Lisa P Newman, Rivkeh Y Haryono