May 25, 2019 | Updated: 10:06 PM EDT

Bariatric Surgery Alters Taste Buds Leading to Weight Loss, Study Says

Nov 05, 2014 05:56 PM EST

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Bariatric surgery is often the last resort to treat very obese patients
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Patient to undergo bariatric surgery
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Bariatric surgery may well be any person's ultimate solution for obesity as a new study has found it to alter taste that contributes further to weight loss.

The study conducted by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California found that patients who underwent bariatric surgery reported a decrease in taste intensity that led to their losing of excess weight after three months.

Researchers said that they performed the study after observing that many patients reported changes in the sense of taste after bariatric surgery. Patients experienced aversion to foods and sensitivity to taste following the procedure.

The results were reported during Obesity Week 2014, hosted in Boston by the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery and The Obesity Society (TOS).

Bariatric surgery is a collective term for many types of weight-loss surgery. The procedure makes changes to one's digestive system to help in weight loss. This is by limiting the amount of food one could eat or by reducing the absorption of nutrients.

The study included 55 obese patients undergoing bariatric surgery and a comparison group of 33 healthy non-obese people who didn't have surgery. The participants were first asked to take a  taste test using flavor-saturated paper strips to gauge their ability to identify sweet, sour, bitter, salty and pleasant savory (umami) tastes. The tests were conducted at 3, 6, and 12 months after surgery for each patient.

Dr. John M. Morton, chief of bariatric and minimally invasive surgery at Stanford, said "Even before surgery, the tests showed the obese patients were uniformly less taste sensitive than normal weight patients. Obese patients may seek to derive satisfaction through volume rather than taste appreciation."

Most of the subjects (87%) claimed to have noticed a change in taste perception after bariatric surgery, and some of them (42%) said that they did not eat the food because it didn't taste as good.

"After surgery, patients did note less preference for salty foods," Morton said.

The people who had lesser taste intensity lost more weight (20%) in three months compared to the people whose taste intensity increased.

"The study provides excellent new insight on taste change after bariatric surgery," Dr. Jaime Ponce, medical director of bariatric surgery at the Hamilton Medical Center in Dalton, Georgia, and past-president of the ASMBS, noted in a conference statement.

"More research is needed to see how we can adjust for taste perception to increase weight loss," he added.

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