Does The Sense of Taste Affect Weight Control?

We all have “taste buds” on our tongues that allow us to perceive the various tastes of salty, sweet, bitter, sour and umami (okay, bonus points to those out there that know what that 5th taste, “umami” refers to!). Each of these taste buds contains three types of cells that are responsible for the perceptions of these tastes. These cells regenerate at different rates.

At Cornell University, a study was performed demonstrating that mice fed high fat diets for 8 weeks had fewer taste buds than the lean mice and additionally, the taste bud cells regenerated at a slower rate in the obese rats.

Turning our attention to humans, is it possible that a lower number of taste buds present in overweight/obese people cause this population to seek sugary/salty/tasty foods in higher amounts/higher concentrations due to their lower abilities to “taste”? This certainly could be a contributing cause to overweight/obese people seeking those foods that continue to worsen the weight control problem.

For all of us, there is no doubt that a piece of Carnegie Deli cheesecake tastes better than a raw celery stick, but perhaps subtle differences in taste buds/taste sensation do affect weight control as a contributing cause.

Nataliya P Serotonin-Plus Counselor

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