Taste buds are nerve endings with as many as 100 cells. These cells send signals to the brain about the different palates and tastes of the food eaten. In fact, the neurons release the chemical ‘dopamine' when the taste buds come in contact with delicious foods, and give rise to the ‘feel good' factor. That's why, we instantly know when the food tastes good or bad the moment we bite into it. However, when suffering from the condition of obesity, taste buds tend to lose their power, says a recently conducted scientific study. The findings of this study were published in the journal 'Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience', which claimed that obesity is linked to a reduced response to taste.
The study suggests that people with obesity tend to lose their sense of taste but the underlying neural changes still remain to be discovered. Patricia Di Lorenzo, professor of psychology, Binghamton University stated, "It is surprising that we know so little about how taste is affected by obesity, given that the taste of food is a big factor in determining what we choose to eat."
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The researchers studied the brainstem of rats that were fattened by feeding a high-fat diet and analysed the responses to taste stimuli from single cells. The team, including Di Lorenzo and former graduate student Michael Weiss, aimed to discover the effects of obesity on responses to taste stimuli in the nucleus tractus solitarius, a part of the brain involved with taste processing. They found out that in comparison with lean rats, taste responses in the obese rats were smaller in magnitude, shorter in duration and took longer to develop.
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"Others have found that the number of taste buds on the tongue is diminished in obese mice and humans, so the likelihood that taste response in the human brain is also blunted is good," Di Lorenzo added.
Though the research was conducted on rats, the same effects could possibly be found in humans too. The findings confirm the fact that high-fat diet leads to weakened association of taste responses with ingestive behaviour.