Oral Presentation Australian & New Zealand Obesity Society 2015 Annual Scientific Meeting

Does fat taste have a role in development of obesity? (#4)

Russell Keast 1
  1. Deakin University, Burwood, VIC, Australia

Evidence from animal literature has shown fatty acid or fat taste is associated with development of obesity [1].  Considering the physiological function of the sense of taste is to detect the nutritious or toxic value of foods it seems logical that components of dietary fats (fatty acids) would be detected in the mouth, similar to the nutritive components of proteins (glutamate, aspartate) and carbohydrates (sucrose, fructose etc) [2].  The weight of evidence supports the existence of a fat specific taste activated by fatty acids, including identification of fatty acid specific receptors on taste cells, reproducible and reliable detection threshold measures, and existence of lingual lipase activity [3].  

Similar to animal studies, associations have been reported between fat taste thresholds and an individual’s dietary fat intake and BMI [4].  Also, fat taste thresholds have been associated with gastrointestinal (GI) tract fatty acid sensitivity indicating a coordinated alimentary canal response to fatty acids [5].   The relationship between fat taste and obesity is strengthened when you consider obese individuals had attenuated ability to detect fatty acids in both the oral cavity and GI tract compared to lean subjects [5].  Fat intake may be poorly regulated in obese people due to an impaired satiety response to dietary fats, causing excess consumption of dietary fat and in turn predisposition to weight gain.  This paper will cover emerging evidence for fat taste and the functional significance of fatty acid chemoreception in humans.


1.         Gilbertson, T.A., et al., Physiol Behav, 2005. 86(5): p. 681-90.

2.         Newman, L., R. et al Nutrients, 2013. 5(4): p. 1287-300.

3.         Keast, R, Costanzo A. Is fat the sixt taste primary. Flavour 2015 4:5

4.         Stewart, J., et al.,. British Journal of Nutrition, 2010. 104(1): p. 145-52.

5.         Stewart, J., et al.,  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011. 93: p. 703-711.