PhotoWhile we may be more likely to overindulge in tasty food such as cookies or chips, new research suggests that one's preference for good-tasting food doesn't in and of itself lead to weight gain. 

Researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center recently found that good taste does play a role in determining what we choose to eat, but it doesn't determine how much we eat over the long-term.

“Most people think that good-tasting food causes obesity, but that is not the case,” said the study’s lead author Michael Tordoff, PhD, a physiological psychologist at Monell.

Previous studies have suggested that overeating good-tasting food is what causes laboratory rodents to become obese, but Tordoff and his colleagues wanted to find out if taste itself is what drives overeating. As it turns out, liking food that tastes good isn't what leads to excessive weight gain.

Role of taste

In a new study involving mice, the researchers examined the role of taste in driving overeating. They found that having a fondness for food with high sugar and fat content doesn't necessarily cause weight gain and obesity. 

After establishing that mice strongly prefer food with nonnutritive sweet or oily tastes, the investigators fed mice one of three diets: the first group was fed plain rodent chow, the second group got chow with added sucralose, and the third group was fed rodent chow with added mineral oil.

At the end of six weeks, the researchers found that the groups fed the sweet or oily chow were no heavier or fatter than the animals fed the plain chow. The team ultimately concluded that taste alone doesn’t drive overeating and weight gain.

“Even though we gave mice delicious diets over a prolonged period, they did not gain excess weight. People say that ‘if a food is good-tasting it must be bad for you,’ but our findings suggest this is not the case." Tordoff said, adding that "it should be possible to create foods that are both healthy and good-tasting."

The findings are published online in the journal Physiology & Behavior.


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