2016 Volume 238 Issue 2 Pages 93-103
Oral fat sensitivity (OFS, the ability to detect fat) may be related to overeating-induced obesity. However, it is largely unknown whether OFS affects taste preference and eating habits. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate (1) the association between body mass index (BMI) and OFS and (2) the relationship of OFS with four types of taste preference (sweet, sour, salty, and bitter) and eating habits using serial concentrations of oleic acid (OA) homogenized in non-fat milk and a self-reported questionnaire. Participants were 25 healthy Japanese individuals (mean age: 27.0 ± 5.6 years), among whom the OA detection threshold was significantly associated with BMI. Participants were divided into two subgroups based on oral sensitivity to 2.8 mM OA: hypersensitive (able to detect 2.8 mM OA, n = 16) and hyposensitive (unable to detect 2.8 mM OA, n = 9). The degree of sweet taste preference of the hypersensitive group was significantly higher than that of the hyposensitive group. Furthermore, there was significantly higher degree of preference for high-fat sweet foods than low-fat sweet foods in the hypersensitive group. There was also a significant inverse correlation between the OA detection threshold and the degree of both spare eating and postprandial satiety. Thus, OFS is associated not only with BMI, but also with the preference for high-fat sweet foods and eating habits. The present study provides novel insights that measuring OFS may be useful for assessing the risk of obesity associated with overeating in countries, including Japan, where BMI is increasing in the population.