Palatability involves complex factors and information processing in the brain. Recent advances in research enable some conclusions to be drawn and hypotheses presented for the mechanism underlying the generation of likes and dislikes for foods.
Leptin is a protein encoded by the ob gene and expressed in adipocytes, and is known to be correlated with themass of body fat and to respond to changes in energy intake. Leptin may be an important mediator of the reproductivefunction. We hypothesized that the leptin concentration in women with hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) wouldbe low and that leptin may be a sensitive marker of overall nutritional status. We therefore examined the leptin concentrationand energy intake of 19 hypothalamic amenorrheal women and 12 control women. The leptin concentrationwas lower in the HA subjects than in the control subjects, and the fat intake, insulin concentration, irregular eatingbehavior and smoking habit were higher in those women with HA than in the control subjects. These data demonstrate that leptin was independent of the fat mass and nutritional intake in women with HA.The low leptin level may have reflected a nutritional abnormality, irregular eat ing behavior and smoking habit.
A study was made of food served for lunch in the canteen of a large industrial factory during the 1998 year. The data used for analysis were the number of food materials, food groups, kinds of meal, cooking methods, food intake and nutrient intake for two set lunch menus. The two set lunch menus satisfied the diners' requests of being able to select a main dish of either fish or meat. There were respective totals of 134 and 144 kinds of meal for the fish and meat selections in the year, although about 40 kinds of meal offered on both set menus made up 80% of the total. Frying or grilling were mainly used for both main dishes. Both set lu ches provided good nutritional balance, apart from the high salt and low calcium contents which needed improvement.
A survey was conducted on the use of fast foods among young people from schoolchildren to university students and its effect on diet was evaluated. Thirty-two percent of the subjects reported eating fast foods once or more per week (group A), while the other subjects reported twice or less per month (group B). Among the reasons quoted for the use of fast foods, “cheap price” and “good taste” accounted for about 40% and then “convenience”. Schoolchildren quoted “cheap price” as the biggest reason and then “pleasure”. The subjects tended to eat hamburger, French fries and fried chicken for lunch and snacks, doughnuts, hot dogs and takoyaki for snacks, pizza for dinner, and okonomiyaki, noodles and rice dishes for lunch and dinner. Hamburger, French fries and fried chicken tended to be eaten at a restaurant, pizza and okonomiyaki at home, doughnuts, hot dogs, noodles and rice dishes at a restaurant and at home, and takoyaki at home and at outdoor stands. Schoolchildren and junior high school children tended to eat fast foods with their family, while university students and high school students tended to eat fast foods, except for pizza and okonomiyaki, with their friends. Almost all the subjects were satisfied with the taste of fast foods, although many complained about the quantity of fried chicken and abou the price of pizza and fried chicken. Group A subjects more often skipped breakfast than group B subjects, and group B subjects more often ate breakfast and dinner with their family (p<0.01). Some differences in health-related behavior were found between groups A and B, with group A subjects tending to have worse health conditions. The percentages of those who ate balanced meals consisting of a staple food, main dish and side dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner were 3.7%, 18.9 % and 25.8%, respectively. These percentages were higher for group B than for group A (p<0.01). The ercentages of those who had no balanced meal each day were 71.3% for group A and 59.3% for group B (p<0.001).