Tasteful Obesity

ObesityWeek 2014 BostonNew studies at ObesityWeek 2014 gave us pause to think about tasteful obesity — the intensity of experiencing food and the cravings created thereby. In particular, a study by incoming ASMBS president John Morton received particular attention. He and colleagues from Stanford found that reductions in taste intensity after weight loss surgery predicted significantly greater weight loss. Speaking about his motivation to do the study, Morton said:

“It was really interesting because we hear that interplay between taste and weight gain and weight loss quite often just clinically. Patients would come in and tell you that sweet food doesn’t taste the same to me. Salty food doesn’t taste the same to me. So we decided to investigate it, to actually do a study.”

It’s been documented before that taste preferences and experiences are different in people who are at risk for obesity. In a classic study years ago, researchers found a heightened pleasure response to sweet and creamy liquids associated with weight gain in Pima Indians. But this new study offers new insight on an effect of bariatric surgery that might explain how it’s working.

Alterations in taste experiences that predict good outcomes after bariatric surgery provide an important clue for both understanding the pathology of obesity and developing better treatments.

“Benefits should be conferred gradually; and in that way they will taste better.” — Niccolo Machiavelli

Click here for an interview with Morton about his study and click here for the abstract. Click here for more from MedPage Today. Click here for the study of taste preferences in Pima Indians.

Tasteful, photograph © James Broad / flickr

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