MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Robin Dando, PhD
Director, Cornell Sensory Evaluation Facility
Department of Food Science
Ithaca, NY 14853
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: For many years, people have been interested in if gaining weight can change how we perceive foods, thus maybe encouraging less healthy food choices. There is some evidence in previous work that if we become obese, we seem to perceive things as tasting less intense. Now if this were the case, to make up for this we might eat more of whatever food it was we were eating, or conversely we might choose something that tasted more intense, to make up this difference. More intense usually means higher calories, so if we took either of these approaches, we’re at risk for weight gain.
In our study, we examined the taste buds of mice who were fed an unhealthy diet that induces obesity, versus sibling mice fed a more healthy diet that keeps them lean. The mice gaining weight ended up after only 8 weeks with a lot fewer taste buds than the lean mice. This loss of taste buds represents one explanation for foods tasting less intense to the obese.