The likelihood of a child becoming obese could be influenced by the sensitivity of their tastebuds, a study has shown.
An investigation published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood involved the study of 99 obese and 94 normal weight children between the ages of six and 18, all of whom were not taking any medicines known to impact small or taste and were in good health.
Participants were asked to only drink water and refrain from eating food or chewing gum for at least one hour before they took the test.
Scientists tested each child with 22 'taste strips' that were placed on the tongue and featured all five tastes – sweet, bitter, salty, umani (savoury) and sour – which had four different levels of intensity, as well as two strips that had intentionally been left blank.
The maximum taste recognition score participants could achieve was 20 and the scores ranged from two to 19.
Generally, children could differentiate between the salty and sweet strips, but found it harder to distinguish between salty and unami, as well as salty and sour.
Obese research subjects found it considerably more difficult to identify the tastes, achieving an average score of 12.6.
Among children of a normal weight, the average result was 14, with older children and girls typically achieving the highest scores.
The study authors suggested that this discrepancy could prompt obese children to consume greater quantities of food than their normal-weight counterparts in order to achieve the same tastes.
Obesity in childhood could lead many people to make claims for treatments on expatriate medical insurance policies, as it is linked to high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, sleep apnoea, heart disease, cancer, osteoarthritis and stroke.
People who are overweight when they are young are considerably more likely to have weight problems in adulthood than the general population.
The research authors claimed differing taste sensations could be the result of factors including acculturation, exposure to foodstuffs, hormones and genes.