Nav: Home

Does good-tasting food cause weight gain?

December 15, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (Dec. 15, 2016) - Does eating good-tasting food make you gain weight? Despite the common perception that good-tasting food is unhealthy and causes obesity, new research from the Monell Center using a mouse model suggests that desirable taste in and of itself does not lead to weight gain.

"Most people think that good-tasting food causes obesity, but that is not the case. Good taste determines what we choose to eat, but not how much we eat over the long-term," said study senior author Michael Tordoff, PhD, a physiological psychologist at Monell.

Researchers who study obesity have long known that laboratory rodents fed a variety of tasty human foods, such as chocolate chip cookies, potato chips and sweetened condensed milk, avidly overeat the good-tasting foods and become obese.

These studies have provided support for the common belief that tasty food promotes overeating and ensuing weight gain. However, because no study had separated the positive sensory qualities of the appetizing foods from their high sugar and fat content, it was impossible to know if the taste was actually driving the overeating.

Accordingly, Tordoff and colleagues designed a series of experiments to assess the role of taste in driving overeating and weight gain. The findings are published online ahead of print in the journal Physiology & Behavior.

The researchers first established that laboratory mice strongly like food with added nonnutritive sweet or oily tastes. To do this they gave mice two cups of food. One group of mice had a choice between a cup of plain rodent chow and a cup of chow mixed with the noncaloric sweetener sucralose. The other group received a choice between a cup of plain rodent chow and a cup of chow mixed with mineral oil, which also has no calories.

The mice ignored the plain chow and ate almost all of their food from the cups containing the sweetened or oily chow, establishing that these non-caloric tastes were indeed very appealing.

Next, new groups of mice received one of the three diets for six weeks: one group was fed plain chow, one group was fed chow with added sucralose, and one group was fed chow with added mineral oil. At the end of this period, the groups fed the sweet or oily chow were no heavier or fatter than were the animals fed the plain chow.

Additional tests revealed that even after six weeks, the animals still highly preferred the taste-enhanced diets, demonstrating the persistent strong appeal of both sweet and oily tastes.

In another experiment, the researchers fed mice a high-fat diet that is known to make mice obese. Mice fed this high-fat diet sweetened with sucralose got no fatter than did those fed the plain version.

"Even though we gave mice delicious diets over a prolonged period, they did not gain excess weight. People say that 'if a food is good-tasting it must be bad for you,' but our findings suggest this is not the case. It should be possible to create foods that are both healthy and good-tasting," said Tordoff.
-end-
Also contributing to the research, which was supported by Monell Center institutional funds, were Monell scientists Jordan Pearson, Hillary Ellis and Rachel Poole.

The Monell Chemical Senses Center is an independent nonprofit basic research institute based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For over 48 years, Monell has advanced scientific understanding of the mechanisms and functions of taste and smell to benefit human health and well-being. Using an interdisciplinary approach, scientists collaborate in the programmatic areas of sensation and perception; neuroscience and molecular biology; environmental and occupational health; nutrition and appetite; health and well-being; development, aging and regeneration; and chemical ecology and communication. For more information about Monell, visit http://www.monell.org.

Monell Chemical Senses Center

Related Obesity Articles:

Changing the debate around obesity
The UK's National Health Service (NHS) needs to do more to address the ingrained stigma and discrimination faced by people with obesity, says a leading health psychologist.
Study links longer exposure to obesity and earlier development of obesity to increased risk of type 2 diabetes
Cumulative exposure to obesity could be at least as important as actually being obese in terms of risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D), concludes new research published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]).
How much do obesity and addictions overlap?
A large analysis of personality studies has found that people with obesity behave somewhat like people with addictions to alcohol or drugs.
Should obesity be recognized as a disease?
With obesity now affecting almost a third (29%) of the population in England, and expected to rise to 35% by 2030, should we now recognize it as a disease?
Is obesity associated with risk of pediatric MS?
A single-center study of 453 children in Germany with multiple sclerosis (MS) investigated the association of obesity with pediatric MS risk and with the response of first-line therapy in children with MS.
Women with obesity prior to conception are more likely to have children with obesity
A systematic review and meta-analysis identified significantly increased odds of child obesity when mothers have obesity before conception, according to a study published June 11, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Nicola Heslehurst of Newcastle University in the UK, and colleagues.
Obesity medicine association announces major updates to its adult obesity algorithm
The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) announced the immediate availability of the 2019 OMA Adult Obesity Algorithm, with new information for clinicians including the relationship between Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Dyslipidemia, and Cancer; information on investigational Anti-Obesity Pharmacotherapy; treatments for Lipodystrophy; and Pharmacokinetics and Obesity.
Systematic review shows risk of a child developing overweight or obesity is more than trebled by maternal obesity prior to pregnancy
New research presented at this year's European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Glasgow, Scotland (April 28- May 1) reveals that the risk of a child becoming overweight or obese is more than trebled by maternal obesity prior to getting pregnant.
Eating later in the day may be associated with obesity
Eating later in the day may contribute to weight gain, according to a new study to be presented Saturday at ENDO 2019, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in New Orleans, La.
How obesity affects vitamin D metabolism
A new Journal of Bone and Mineral Research study confirms that vitamin D supplementation is less effective in the presence of obesity, and it uncovers a biological mechanism to explain this observation.
More Obesity News and Obesity Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Our Relationship With Water
We need water to live. But with rising seas and so many lacking clean water – water is in crisis and so are we. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around restoring our relationship with water. Guests on the show include legal scholar Kelsey Leonard, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, and community organizer Colette Pichon Battle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#568 Poker Face Psychology
Anyone who's seen pop culture depictions of poker might think statistics and math is the only way to get ahead. But no, there's psychology too. Author Maria Konnikova took her Ph.D. in psychology to the poker table, and turned out to be good. So good, she went pro in poker, and learned all about her own biases on the way. We're talking about her new book "The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Uncounted
First things first: our very own Latif Nasser has an exciting new show on Netflix. He talks to Jad about the hidden forces of the world that connect us all. Then, with an eye on the upcoming election, we take a look back: at two pieces from More Perfect Season 3 about Constitutional amendments that determine who gets to vote. Former Radiolab producer Julia Longoria takes us to Washington, D.C. The capital is at the heart of our democracy, but it's not a state, and it wasn't until the 23rd Amendment that its people got the right to vote for president. But that still left DC without full representation in Congress; D.C. sends a "non-voting delegate" to the House. Julia profiles that delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and her unique approach to fighting for power in a virtually powerless role. Second, Radiolab producer Sarah Qari looks at a current fight to lower the US voting age to 16 that harkens back to the fight for the 26th Amendment in the 1960s. Eighteen-year-olds at the time argued that if they were old enough to be drafted to fight in the War, they were old enough to have a voice in our democracy. But what about today, when even younger Americans are finding themselves at the center of national political debates? Does it mean we should lower the voting age even further? This episode was reported and produced by Julia Longoria and Sarah Qari. Check out Latif Nasser's new Netflix show Connected here. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.