Background/Aims: Fat taste sensitivity is impaired in obese individuals and is associated with consumption of dietary fat. Increasing sensitivity to fats throughout the alimentary canal may be an effective strategy to achieve sustainable weight loss. This study assessed the effect of a six-week low-fat diet or portion control diet matched for weight loss on fat taste thresholds, fat perception and food preference in overweight/obese people.
Methods: Participants (n=53; BMI 31.0±0.7kg/m2) were randomised to a six-week low-fat diet (25% total fat) or portion control diet (33% total fat). Anthropometry, fat taste thresholds (lowest detectable fat concentration), fat perception (discrimination ability) and preference were assessed at baseline and week six.
Results: Consumption of a low-fat diet (n=26) and portion control diet (n=27) reduced participant’s weight (P<0.001) with no significant differences between groups. Both diets resulted in a decrease in fat taste thresholds (increased fat taste sensitivity) (P=0.014), with a trend for a stronger effect in the low-fat diet versus the portion control diet (P=0.060). The ability to perceive fat in foods was increased in the low-fat diet group only (P=0.017), however preference for the level of fat in foods did not change.
Conclusions: A low-fat and portion control diet both increased fat taste sensitivity in overweight/obese people, with the strongest effect in the low-fat diet group. This increase in fat taste sensitivity may help induce a healthy satiety response to dietary fat and in turn reduce excess energy intake and weight gain.
Funding source: NHMRC (Grant 1043780) and Deakin University