Objective: Patients who have undergone Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) for clinically severe obesity often report an aversion to sweet foods and meat. This study was designed to determine whether changes in taste acuity occur after RYGB.
Design: This prospective, repeated measures trial evaluated acuity for sweet (sucrose) and bitter (urea) tastes, zinc status, and reported changes in taste perceptions in patients undergoing RYGB for weight reduction.
Subjects: Taste acuity and serum zinc level were measured in 14 subjects, 6 men and 8 women (mean preoperative body mass index [calculated as kg/m2] = 60.8 +/- 11.8 and mean age = 38.4 +/- 6 years), before surgery and 6 and 12 weeks after surgery. Inquiries regarding taste preferences were made at each postoperative visit with specific reference to sweets and meat. Serum zinc level was measured at the same visit. A noncontrolled comparison group of 4 subjects who were consuming a very-low-calorie diet also underwent taste acuity testing at similar intervals.
Main outcome measures: The main outcome measures were recognition taste thresholds, serum zinc levels, and taste preference changes.
Statistical analysis: Analysis of variance with repeated measures over time, Pearson correlation coefficients, and post hoc analysis of variance were used to analyze data.
Results: Mean recognition thresholds for sucrose were 0.047 +/- 0.03 mol/L preoperatively and fell significantly to 0.024 +/- 0.01 and 0.019 +/- 0.01 mol/L at 6 and 12 weeks postoperatively, respectively. Overall, there were no significant differences in taste thresholds for urea over time; a significant difference was noted, however, in the pattern of change for urea between patients who reported an aversion to meats and those who did not. Zinc concentrations did not change during the study.
Application/conclusions: At 6 weeks postoperatively, all patients reported that foods tasted sweeter, and they modified food selection accordingly. Six patients reported an aversion to meats associated with increased nausea and vomiting. Acuity for sweet and bitter tastes may need to be considered when planning dietary modifications for patients undergoing RYGB.