How much do your taste buds have to do with your weight? Anything? Everything?
In a recent study researchers compared taste sensitivity in obese children and adolescents to that of healthy weight children and adolescents. According to this study, taste sensitivity is linked to weight.
Children and adolescents who were obese had less sensitive taste buds. That means for obese children sweet foods tasted less intensely sweet, bitter foods were milder and salt was not as readily perceived.
What do these differences in taste perception mean?
What the study can’t reliably tell us is whether a decreased taste sensitivity causes obesity or whether obesity somehow causes a decrease in taste sensitivity.
We do know that our tastes change over our lifetimes as a result of certain life circumstances. During pregnancy, for example, nearly two-thirds of women experience changes in taste. Pregnant women have been found to have a reduced sensitivity to salty tastes, which may be the body’s way of ensuring increased salt intake during pregnancy.
Chemotherapy is another example of an experience that changes a sense of taste. Forty-six percent of patients receiving chemotherapy report taste changes.