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Taste bud training is the new weight loss tool
SCIENTISTS have come up with a novel way of helping overweight people drop some kilos - retraining their taste buds.
Australian researchers have found that overweight and obese people who regularly tuck into fatty foods are less able to taste fat.
As fat promotes fullness, if a person is insensitive to fat their body will not send out signals telling them they are full and need to stop eating.
However the researchers found that switching to a low fat diet made people more sensitive to tasting fat, increasing their ability to feel full faster and stop overeating.
The findings by scientists at Deakin University's Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research builds on their discovery in 2010 of a taste bud that detects fat.
For the latest study, 19 people of a healthy weight and another 12 who were overweight or obese were put on a low-fat diet for four weeks and a high-fat diet for another month.
The participants were all given samples of custard after following the low-fat diet and each could taste which ones had lower amounts of fat.
However when they switched to a high-fat diet it was only the people of a healthy weight who showed any change in their ability to recognise different fat levels.
While the healthy weight people were less able to taste different fat levels in custard, those who were overweight or obese showed no change in their sensitivity to fat.
The centre's Associate Professor Russell Keast said the study showed being on a low-fat diet makes overweight and obese people more sensitive to fatty tastes.
"It was interesting that we could improve fat sensitivity of overweight/obese people with low fat diets - in a sense train their tastebuds to be more sensitive to fat," he said.
"This provides hope that their body may be able to adapt over a period of time, thereby responding to dietary fat in a similar way as a healthy weight person."
But Assoc Prof Keast said simply switching to a low fat diet was not necessarily the only way to help obese people lose weight.
Scientists still did not have a complete understanding of the role genetics played in obesity and more studies were needed to determine if different types of fat could affect how sensitive people become to detecting fatty foods, he said.
Another possible key to weight loss could be linked to whether specific foods or different types of fat can make people less or more sensitive to tasting fat.
Assoc Prof Keast said the centre's study had revealed that the participants who were less sensitive to fatty tastes tended to eat more meat and high-fat dairy foods.
He said if scientists could work out whether eating certain fats helped people feel fuller, the concentrations of those specific fats could be increased in foods which could possibly then be marketed as weight-loss products.
"Everything comes down to the response to what you are eating," he said.
"It's certainly not as easy as saying this is the only solution.
"Overweight and obesity is a result of multiple factors and excess consumption of fat is only one of them."The study was published in the International Journal of Obesity and Clinical Nutrition.Read more: http://www.news.com.au/technology/taste-bud-training-is-new-weight-loss-tool/story-e6frfro0-1226114139035#ixzz1UrkRba8q