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Study shows lessened sensitivity in taste buds of obese children
09.20.2012Findings that appear in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood show that a lower than average ability of taste buds to register bitterness, sweetness, saltiness, sourness and savouriness may lead to eating greater quantities to achieve a response.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that almost 20 percent of U.S. kids between 2- and 19-years-old had a body mass index over 30, which defines their weight as clinically obese. Children with weight problems have a greater than average likelihood of becoming obese as adults, and their unhealthy weight could, one day, lead to requiring help from emergency department physicians and needing immediate care for ailments such as heart attack and stroke.
German researchers examined the responses to 22 different taste strips of 100 children with average weight and 100 obese youngsters. The subjects were all under 18-years old, and had been instructed not to consume anything apart from water for at least an hour before testing. They could score accuracy points between 2 and 20, depending on how correctly they were able to identify the tastes that each of the strips represented, and the intensity of the flavors.
Obese children tended to rate the taste intensity of the strips lower than kids of average weight. Furthermore, whereas kids of normal weight scored an average accuracy of more than 14 percent, obese children only identified the tastes correctly an average of 13 percent of the time.
A follow up report by ABC News points out that the study doesn't indicate whether consuming too much food dulls tastes buds, or whether insensitivity to flavors compels individuals to eat more.
"It could be a cause and an effect at the same time. Obese people may taste differently, but also their taste ability is contributing to their obesity," said Robin Dando, from the food and science department at Cornell University, quoted by the news source.
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