Obesity linked to weakened response to food taste

In a new study, researchers found obesity is connected with a reduced response to taste.

The research was conducted by a team from Binghamton University, State of the University of New York.

Taste perception is known to change with obesity, but the underlying neural changes remain poorly understood.

In the study, the team examined the effects of obesity on responses to taste stimuli in the nucleus tractus solitarius, a part of the brain involved with taste processing.

They recorded the responses to taste stimuli from single cells in the brainstem of rats that were made obese by eating a high-fat diet.

They found that taste responses in these obese rats were smaller in magnitude, shorter in duration and took longer to develop, compared with those in lean rats.

These findings suggest that a high-fat diet produces blunted, but more prevalent, responses to taste in the brain and a weakened association of taste responses with ingestive behavior.

The team says it’s surprising that scientists know so little about how taste is affected by obesity, given that the taste of food is a big factor in determining what we choose to eat.

The current findings currently only apply to rats, but this same process could possibly translate to humans.

Previous studies have found that the number of taste buds on the tongue are diminished in obese mice and humans, so the likelihood that taste response in the human brain is also blunted is good.

The team is looking into the effects of gastric bypass surgery on brainstem responses to see if this procedure can recover some or all of the deficits in the taste system.

The authors of the study include Di Lorenzo and former graduate student Michael Weiss.

The study is published in Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience.

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