Sweet tooth reconsidered: taste responsiveness in human obesity

Physiol Behav. 1985 Oct;35(4):617-22. doi: 10.1016/0031-9384(85)90150-7.


Taste responses of normal-weight, obese, and formerly obese individuals for sucrose and fat containing stimuli were examined using a mathematical modelling technique known as the Response Surface Method. The subjects accurately rated intensities of sweetness, fatness, and creaminess of 20 different mixtures of milk, cream, and sugar, and no mixture phenomena or inter-group differences were observed. In contrast, hedonic taste responses varied across subject groups, and were affected differentially by the sucrose and lipid content of the stimuli. Normal-weight subjects optimally preferred stimuli containing 20% lipid and less than 10% sucrose. Obese subjects preferred high-fat stimuli (greater than 34% lipid) that contained less than 5% sucrose, while formerly obese subjects showed enhanced responsiveness to both sugar and fat. Hedonic responsiveness as measured by the optimal sugar/fat ratio was negatively correlated with the degree of overweight (body mass index: weight/height). We hypothesize that sensory preferences for dietary sugars and fats aren determined by body-weight status and may affect the patterns of food consumption.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / analysis
  • Dietary Fats / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Perception
  • Sucrose / analysis
  • Taste / physiology*


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Sucrose