A new study found that people who overeat may be doing so because they are not able to taste or enjoy their food as well as other people. Using fruit flies, researchers found that a high-sugar diet can negatively impact taste receptors, deadening the flies’ ability to taste sweet things. They then ate more sugary foods to get the satisfaction others received from smaller amounts, leading to obesity.
When fed the equivalent of diet soda, their ability to taste and recognize sweetness was not negatively impacted. So, it wasn’t that an overabundance of sweetness was to blame; it was the sugar. When researchers reset the brain cells of flies on high-sugar diets, the flies stopped overeating, despite having an excess of sugar around them.
“This means the changes in taste, at least in flies, are pretty important to drive overconsumption and weight gain,” Monica Dus, principal investigator on the study at the Univ. of Michigan, said. “Do changes in taste also play a role in the overconsumption that we see when humans and other animals find themselves in food environments high in sugar?”
The research appears to show that obesity is the result of overeating because of the inability to taste things and the body’s drive to be satiated, not the other way around. This research could lead to weight loss drugs that correct a person’s ability to taste. Were their taste buds to be fixed, people would be far less likely to overeat.
The scientists said that avoiding added sugar can help you protect your taste receptors. The American Heart Association warns against eating more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and nine teaspoons for men. Most of us consume 17 teaspoons every day. By trying to keep sugar as a treat instead of a daily habit, you can help your mouth taste real flavors and remain trim.
If overeating sugar is making you unwell, speak to your doctor about your health and way to cut sugar from your diet!