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Study Finds Obese Children Have Difficulty Detecting Certain Tastes

Posted: September 25, 2012

Researchers have found that obese children and adolescents showed a significantly lower ability to identify the correct taste qualities as compared to their normal weight peers.

The study published this month in the Archives of Disease in Childhood analyzed taste sensitivity of obese and non-obese children and adolescents ranging from six  to 18 years old. Using taste strips in different concentrations, researchers analyzed sensitivity for the taste qualities sweet, sour, salty, umami and bitter. A total score was determined for all taste qualities combined as well as for each separately. 

Obese subjects showed—compared to the control group—a significantly lower ability to identify the correct taste qualities regarding the total score. In regards to individual taste qualities, obese participants were less able to detect salty, umami and bitter qualities. 

Age and sex had a significant influence on taste perception: older age and females were able to better identify taste qualities. Concerning the sweet intensity rating, which had a five-point rating scale, obese children gave significantly lower intensity ratings to three of the four concentrations.