Obese children’s ‘blunted’ taste-buds may lead to higher food intake
The study – published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood – reveals that children who are classified as obese have a blunted ability to distinguish the five tastes of bitter, sweet, salty, sour, and umami (savoury) when compared to normal weight children.
The lack of taste sensitivity may prompt already obese children to consume even larger quantities of food in a bid to register the same taste sensation, suggest the authors.
“Obese subjects showed—compared to the control group—a significantly lower ability to identify the correct taste qualities,” explain the authors – led by Susanna Wiegand from Charité Universitätsmedizin, Germany.
Wigand and her team base their findings on 94 normal weight and 99 obese children aged between 6 and 18. The taste sensitivity of every child was tested using 22 ‘taste strips’ which included each of the five taste sensations, at four different levels of intensity.
Overall, obese children found it more difficult to identify the different taste sensations and were significantly less likely to identify the individual taste sensations correctly - particularly salty, umami, and bitter.
The team added that while both obese and normal weight children correctly identified all the differing levels of sweetness, obese kids rated three out of the four intensity levels lower those of normal weight.
Similarly, children of normal weight were better able to distinguish the different taste sensations, the older they were, but this trend was not seen among the obese children, said the researchers.