Smoking and obesity are independently associated with high consumption of high-fat foods in women. We tested whether the co-occurrence of smoking and obesity associates with reduced oral fat perception.
Four groups of women (14 obese smokers, 11 obese never-smokers, 10 normal-weight smokers, 12 normal-weight never-smokers) rated vanilla puddings that varied in fat content for perceived intensity of creaminess and sweetness, using the general Labeled Magnitude Scale (gLMS), and degree of pleasantness, using the hedonic gLMS. To determine the role of retronasal smell, subjects rated puddings with and without nose clips.
For all groups, perception of creaminess grew with increasing fat concentrations; puddings with any amount of fat were perceived as sweeter than fat-free pudding, and sweetness was enhanced when tasted without nose clips. Overall, obese smokers perceived less creaminess, sweetness, and pleasure while tasting the puddings than did the other three groups (all P values < 0.02).
The ability to perceive fat and sweetness in and derive pleasure from foods is particularly compromised in obese women who smoke, which could contribute to excess calorie intake in this population already at high risk for cardiovascular and metabolic disease. Retronasal olfaction appears not to contribute to blunted flavor perception observed in obese smokers.
Dr. Marta Yanina Pepino, who conducted the study, explains the research’s implications, “Obese people often crave high-fat foods. Our findings suggest that having this intense craving but not perceiving fat and sweetness in food may lead these women to eat more. Since smoking and obesity are risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, the additional burden of craving more fats and sugars, while not fully tasting them, could be detrimental to health.” Further research will be needed to determine why obese smokers have a compromised fat perception but normal weight smokers do not.
This lack of fat perception coupled with the fact that many women turn to cigarettes as a weight loss aid creates a vicious cycle that promotes obesity. If you are stuck in this cycle it may be time to turn to a medical team that specializes in weight loss and wellness. Heal n Cure provides the education and tools that are necessary to reach your health goals. Set up a free consultation today to learn more about Heal n Cure’s medically supervised weight loss and wellness program.