With increasing levels of obesity in the Western world, research is being carried out to find out more. New research that is currently being carried out on mice has found that when mice gain weight, one in four of their taste buds disappeared. A taste bud is a collection of cells found on the tongue. They decide if food tastes sweet, bitter, salty or savoury. They help us to identify safe and nourishing food. Some taste buds also effectively “turn on” the reward centres in our brain.
Other studies have suggested that as a person becomes obese their sense of taste is dulled. We do not currently know why this happens, but if it does, it could mean that the person does not get the positive feeling they would expect from eating, which could result in them eating more. They simply do not get satisfaction from a healthy portion of food.
Cells in taste buds in mice last around ten days. Then die off and are replaced with new ones. The taste buds in the obese mice died quicker and were not always replaced with new cells.
This suggests that there is a possible link between taste and obesity. This could lead to a possible treatment for obesity, where the sense of taste can be restored in some way.
Whilst this research is on mice at the moment, it could lead to interesting research on humans.
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