A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that food tastes better to obese people.
The study tested levels of satisfaction among adults who were normal weight, overweight, and obese. Professor Linnea Polgreen of the University of Iowa and her team conducted a controlled trial of 290 adults—161 had a body mass index (BMI) that was considered normal, 78 had a BMI considered overweight, and 51 had a BMI considered obese.
Participants were given samples of chocolate, one at a time, until they chose to stop eating. With each sample, participants were given a questionnaire. Half of the study participants were randomly selected to receive nutritional information.
Study participants consumed between two and 51 pieces of chocolate with a mean of 12.1 pieces. Average taste perception decreased with each piece. The researchers found no significant difference in taste perceptions between normal weight and overweight participants. However, obese participants had higher levels of initial taste perception than normal and overweight participants. Also, obese participants reported taste perceptions that declined at a more gradual rate than normal and overweight participants. Self-reported hunger, prior to the study, affected taste perception, but providing nutritional information did not.
Obese women needed to eat 12.5 pieces of chocolate to fall to the same level of taste perception as non-obese women who ate only 10 pieces. That, according to the researchers, corresponds to a difference of 67.5 calories.