Study: Food Tastes Different to Obese Kids
If your kid is carrying around excess weight or can't seem to stop eating, his tongue may be to blame. Obese kids have less sensitive taste buds compared to their normal-weight peers, according to new research published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.
During the study, which included 200 obese and healthy-weight 6 to 18-year-olds, German researchers placed taste strips on kids’ tongues to measure their sensitivity to the five types of taste—bitter, sweet, salty, sour, and savory—at four intensities. Compared to slimmer subjects, obese children had a harder time pointing out the differences between tastes, especially among the salty, savory, and bitter strips. Both normal-weight and obese kids were good at identifying various levels of sweetness, but obese participants rated the sweet taste strips as less intense than normal-weight kids did.
The researchers suggest that because obese children have weaker senses of taste, they may be driven to eat larger amounts of a food in order to get the taste sensation that normal-weight kids experience. Still, the scientists aren’t sure if weaker taste buds cause kids to overeat or whether obesity in some way desensitizes the taste buds—or whether it’s a combination of both.
From genes to hormones to what tastes kids are exposed to early in life, more than one factor determines how taste buds work. And beyond desensitized taste buds, there are dozens of reasons why your child might be eating more than he should. Take food manufacturers’ crafty ways of combining as many of the five tastes into one food as they can for example—that's sure to trip up the taste buds, too. (Check out 8 Reasons You Can’t Stop Eating to learn how today’s tastiest treats may be messing with your tongue.)
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