The Obesity Epidemic: Is The ‘Taste’ Of Fat To Blame?

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.

RELATED: How To Deal With Winter Weight Gain

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?

July 21, 2015

Good Habits Gone Bad: How To Avoid Unhealthy Food Fads

Have you ever noticed that healthy eating isn’t necessarily leading to weight loss? Some foods which are disguised as nutritious, sugar-free, and fat-free, could actually be containing other nasties which lead to imminent weight gain.

RELATED: The Hybrid Food Trend

Don’t believe us? SHESAID enlisted the help of Australia’s number one fitness guru, Guy Leech, to discuss the food trends that we should be avoiding for weight loss.


With so many “juice cleanses” on the market it’s hard not to think that drinking juice all day is good for you.  Guy points out, though, that even 100 per cent freshly pressed juice still contains a heap of sugar and hardly any fibre when compared to whole fruits.

“Try to keep your juice drinking to one cup per day,” he advises.  “Particularly when paired with fresh vegetables, juices are a great way to consume nutrients, however sipping on juice all day is a really easy way to stock up on the calories.”

Another thing to remember is that pre-packaged juices are nutritionally similar to soft drinks, so the best way to consume juice is by juicing your own fruit at home. That way you know exactly what’s in it.

 When Good Habits Go Bad: How To Avoid Unhealthy Food Fads


If packed with the right stuff, smoothies can be a great way to consume a whole lot of nutrients in the one hit. However, smoothies can go from good to bad real fast warns the fitness guru. “Just like making your own muesli, it’s better if you whip up your own healthy smoothie from home,” he advises.  Many store bought smoothies contain ice-cream, high sugar yoghurt and even artificially flavoured syrups.

 When Good Habits Go Bad: How To Avoid Unhealthy Food Fads

Raw food diets

“I’m all for eating food in its most natural state,” says Leech.  “Raw food diets are generally very fresh fruit and vegetable heavy and discourage the consumption of processed foods, which is excellent,” he adds.  Guy points out, however, that cooking food can be more nutritious and at times even safer.

“The lycopene in tomato and the beta-carotene in carrots are released during cooking,” he insists. “Furthermore, cooked foods can be easier to digest and cooking meat and fish kills certain bacteria that could otherwise result in an upset tummy or in extreme cases, food poisoning.”

When Good Habits Go Bad: How To Avoid Unhealthy Food Fads

Almond milk

Almonds are full of nutrients such as vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, potassium, iron and calcium and are reported to help lower cholesterol and improve digestive health, needless to say Leech is a huge fan of them. Likewise, he considers almond milk to be an excellent cow’s milk alternative, especially for using in smoothies and as an accompaniment to homemade muesli. He does, however, warn that there are a couple of drawbacks.

“Almond milk doesn’t have as much calcium or protein as cow’s milk,” he points out.  “Processed almond milk can also be packed with extra sugar and preservatives, so make sure you read the ingredients and nutrition panel carefully,” he advises.  Fresh is always best though, so Leech recommends buying a nut milk bag, blending up some fresh almonds and making your own nutritious almond milk from home.

 When Good Habits Go Bad: How To Avoid Unhealthy Food Fads


Cleverly marketed to the health conscious crowd, muesli can be packed with goodness while also being chock full of fat and sugar. “Many people think they’re doing the right thing by swapping up their sugary cereals or fatty fried breakfasts for a portion of muesli in the mornings,” says Leech.

And, according to the health guru, the type of muesli on the shelves today provides a poor choice for those looking to shed fat and maintain a healthy weight. Instead of giving up muesli completely, Guy suggests making it yourself.

When Good Habits Go Bad: How To Avoid Unhealthy Food Fads

Images via Gimme Some Oven, Raw Food Lifestyle, Health Fitness Revolution

May 9, 2015

Are You Addicted To These Fatty Foods?

Got a sweet tooth and/or a passion for savoury, fatty foods? Easy tiger, you may be addicted to these super-sugary and high-carb treats.

RELATED: Top 5 Weightloss Superfoods You Need Right Now

Leading Sydney dietician and nutritionist and author Susie Burrell (pictured) says highly-processed, fatty, sugary foods like pizza; sweet, baked cookies; cake, ice-cream and chocolate are the most common food addictions.

food addictions, healthy eating, healthy diet
Susie, who recently launched her new program: Shape Me, The 30 Day Plan, says new research shows food addictions are becoming both increasingly common and problematic. “There is new research to show that foods that contain a mix of flavours, and ones that are high in processed carbs, can stimulate the brain in different ways and hence have a more addictive quality than other foods,” she says.

“We know obese individuals tend to need more stimulation from certain types of foods to get their satisfaction and we also know that habits and programming, for example, the types of foods we choose to eat regularly, heavily programs our food preferences.”

food addictions, healthy eating, healthy diet
So, how do we learn to put down that yummy muffin or pizza slice and pick up a carrot stick instead? I, erm, had a danish myself just this morning, eek! Susie advises these handy tips to help us battle our food addictions:

  • Be aware that certain foods will prime your brain to seek out more.
  • Choose plain foods where possible, for example: plain vanilla ice-cream over one with confectionery.
  • Always purchase portion-controlled treat sizes of desirable foods.
  • Do not buy it if you do not want to eat it!
  • Own the issue and actively manage it rather than letting it manage you.

food addictions, healthy eating, healthy diet

Top 5 most addictive foods

  1. Pizza
  2. Chocolate
  3. Chips
  4. Cookies
  5. Ice-cream

Top 5 least addictive foods

  1. Cucumbers
  2. Carrots
  3. Beans
  4. Apples
  5. Brown Rice

Susie Burrell’s new e-book Change Your Mindset And Lose Weight Fast: The Motivation You Need To Lose Weight is out now.

Images via Pixabay

March 7, 2015

5 Foods You Should Never Eat

We’re often warned by our friends, family and the local general practitioner about the types of foods we should avoid to maintain good health. These foods are usually linked to weight gain and could potentially destroy your body before you know it. Remember to enjoy healthy foods in moderation, and keep sweets and sugary snacks to a minimum.

1. White bread

Once upon a time white bread was a staple in not only lunch-boxes but also in the pantry. But did you know it has little nutritional value for your body and keeping healthy? One of the biggest problems about white bread (apart from being so tasty), is that it includes a tremendous amount of sugar. If you love the texture of white bread but don’t want to harm your health in the long-run, opt for wholemeal which is a healthier and lighter option.

2. Processed meat

Processed meats such as hot dogs contain a bunch of preservatives which your body doesn’t need. Eating this sort of food on a regular basis could lead to heart disease, high cholesterol and even type-2 diabetes if you’re not careful. If you’re still craving food with added protein to keep fuller for longer, look for tuna, yoghurt or eggs which are a healthier alternative when eaten in moderation.

3. Soft drinks

This is probably the most obvious of the entire bunch, but soft drinks contain high amounts of sugar that could jeopardise a healthy body. Linked to both childhood (also adult) obesity and type-2 diabetes, the consumption of soft drinks, processed fruit juices and energy drinks should be kept to a minimum.

4. Margarine

Created hundreds of years ago as a substitute to butter, margarine is now made from vegetable-oil which can be used for a variety of dishes or desserts. Unfortunately margarine contains trans fats which increase the risk of heart disease by increasing the bad cholesterol found in blood.

5. Frozen food

Although they are convenient to pop into the oven or microwave for a filling meal without the hassle of cooking, frozen foods are filled with variations of fat and salt not to mention preservatives. However, you shouldn’t be scared of everything frozen. Fruits and vegetables are packed with essential vitamins and minerals which are great to keep in the freezer for whenever you might need them.

Image via Hoops Sports Bar

By Felicia Sapountzis

June 8, 2014