Latest News » Childhood obesity linked to weaker taste buds, study states

Study shows heavier kids taste less.

Obesity rates among kids and teens across the United States have gotten a lot of media attention in recent years, as the issue has become important enough for First Lady Michelle Obama to launch a nutrition campaign to combat it. Studies have covered everything from income ranges to parenting styles in an effort to determine how to tackle this growing trend, which could leave the next generation of American with a series of serious health problems to contend with in the future.

Multiple news outlets have reported on the latest study concerning childhood obesity. On September 19, ABC News ran a story on its most significant finding – that obese children reportedly have taste buds that are not as sensitivity to flavor variations as those of average-weight kids.

Conducted by a group of German researchers, the study compared the taste sensitivity of 99 children deemed obese versus 94 kids who were considered a healthy weight. The children were reportedly given strips of paper infused with different concentrations of five main flavors: sweet, salty, sour, savory and bitter. The researchers then asked the participating youths to distinguish between these tastes, and found that heavier children had a noticeably harder time identifying the different options.

While this discovery is interesting, various publications have commented on the fact that this cross-sectional study doesn't establish a clear cause-and-effect relationship between childhood obesity and taste bud strength. So, while some nutritionists may speculate that an inability to taste may lead kids to eat more to derive the same sensation, that conclusion can't officially be drawn from this new data. 

However, despite the lack of a clear causal relationship between these two variables, this study could shed light on some of the hormones and other genetic elements that play a part in obesity.