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Weight Gain Is Bad News for Our Gustatory Mojo

Obesity-related inflammation may be killing your taste buds.

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Studies have shown that people with obesity have a blunted sense of taste, so they have to eat more richly flavored foods (more sugary and higher in fat) to glean as much sensory satisfaction from a meal as their leaner peers. This could help in understanding why heavier people have a hard time losing weight.

Using obese mice as a model, researchers from Cornell University have shown that obesity can lead to older taste bud cells on the tongue dying faster than new ones are formed, resulting in a net loss of those cells and a decrease in taste sensitivity. The culprit behind the diminishing numbers of taste bud cells seems to be the uptick in inflammation resulting from accumulation of body fat, according to research published in PLOS Biology.

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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