Obesity is reaching epidemic proportions with 2 billion people worldwide now reported to be overweight. With fast food at our fingertips and sweets every which way we look, it’s easy to see why temptation overrules our voice of reason.
The good thing is, however, we’re not crazy in our inability to stop craving these foods, because according to researchers from Purdue University, Indiana, fat has a “taste sensation” that keeps us wanting more. What’s more, scientists believe that the discovery of this could lead to tackling the epidemic once and for all.
“Our experiments provide a missing element in the evidence that fat has a taste sensation, and that it is different from other tastes,” Professor Richard Mattes, director of Purdue’s Ingestive Behaviour Research Centre, told The Independent.
“Identifying the taste of fat has a range of important health implications. At high concentrations, the signal it generates would dissuade the eating of rancid foods,” he explains.
“But at low levels, it may enhance the appeal of some foods by adding to the overall sensory profile, in the same way that bitterness alone is unpleasant but at appropriate levels adds to the appeal of wine and chocolate.”
Researchers believe that as a result of identifying fat as its own flavour – just like sweet, sour and salty – it will help to create fat replacements, which Mattes pointed out has been unsuccessful up until now because scientists have failed to nail the taste of it.
The research, published in the journal, Chemical Senses, comes off the back of a study conducted by Deakin University that found taste was one of the primary reasons some of us overate. Because fat is a vital contributor to feeling full, they discovered that people who couldn’t taste it in their food were less likely to recognise that they were full compared to those who could.
“These results suggest that the ability to taste fat is linked with the fullness experienced from fat,” professor Russell Keast, a researcher in sensory science, told the Daily Mail.
“If you do not taste fat or experience the fullness associated with eating fatty food, you are likely to be more hungry and consume more energy after an earlier fatty meal. And as we know, over-consumption of foods – particularly fatty foods – is associated with people being overweight or obese.”
Should we be pleased or concerned with this research, however? If there is in fact a link between the taste of fat and overeating, will this then lead to even more genetically modified products on our supermarket shelves?
What do you think?