People with obesity may have an unexpected ally after weight-loss surgery: their tongues. New research from the Stanford University School of Medicine finds patients who reported a decrease in taste intensity after bariatric surgery had significantly higher excess weight loss after three months than those whose taste intensity became higher.
Findings from the new study, "Does Taste Perception Change After Bariatric Surgery?", were presented here at the 31st Annual Meeting of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) during ObesityWeek 2014, the largest international event focused on the basic science, clinical application and prevention and treatment of obesity. ObesityWeek 2014 is hosted by the ASMBS and The Obesity Society (TOS).
In the study, the majority (87%) of patients reported a change in taste after bariatric surgery, with 42 percent reporting they ate less because food didn't taste as good. However, those who said their taste intensity decreased, lost 20 percent more weight over three months, than those whose taste intensified.
"In our clinical experience, many patients report alterations in their perception of taste after bariatric surgery. However, little evidence exists as to how and why these changes affect weight loss after surgery," said study author John M. Morton MD, Chief, Bariatric and Minimally Invasive Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine. "It appears it's not just the flavor that influences weight loss, it's the intensity of the flavor. Patients with diminished taste intensity lost the most weight. A potential application to these findings may include teaching taste appreciation in hopes of increasing weight loss."
Before surgery, patients with severe obesity had lower total taste scores than a control group of individuals with no obesity. The 88 patients in the study were on average, 49-years-old, had an average age of 49.2 years, more than half were female with an average preoperative body mass index (BMI) of 45.3. Prior to surgery, the patients and controls completed a baseline validated taste test that quantified their ability to identify the primary taste, using paper strips with varying concentrations of each taste solution, presented in random order. The tests were then performed again at 3-, 6- and 12-months after surgery.
"The study provides excellent new insight on taste change after bariatric surgery," said Jaime Ponce, MD, medical director for Hamilton Medical Center Bariatric Surgery program and ASMBS immediate past-president. "More research is needed to see how we can adjust for taste perception to increase weight loss."
Study - American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). (2014, November 4). For some, losing weight after bariaric surgery may be a matter of taste.ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 5, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/11/141104083132.htm
"In hopes to demonstrate the absolute awfulness that is catcalling, one woman recently took to the streets of Manhattan with a hidden camera to show just how humiliating, and downright horrifying, it can be to be just that–a woman."
For what it's worth -- I lasted about ten minutes out there on my own when I went to New York City by myself for a TV show taping.
I might be doing something ... right by my daily doses of unsweetened cocoa!
I have serious memory issues if you did not notice, on account of the epilepsy, and I assume that someday I'm going to be in a home for the memory impaired. So every time I see a study like this -- I go OOOOH! LOOOK! THIS! I don't take them very seriously, but I read them ALL. Firstly, it was sponsored in part by a chocolate candy-maker. And, yeah.
But check it.
The brain area outlined in yellow is the hippocampus; the dentate gyrus is shown in green and the entorhinal cortex in purple. Previous work, including by the laboratory of senior author Scott A. Small, M.D., had shown that changes in a specific part of the brain's hippocampus -- the dentate gyrus -- are associated with normal age-related memory decline in humans and other mammals. The dentate gyrus is distinct from the entorhinal cortex, the hippocampal region affected in early-stage Alzheimer's disease. Credit: Lab of Scott A. Small, M.D.
In a small study in the journal Nature Neuroscience, healthy people, ages 50 to 69, who drank a mixture high in antioxidants called cocoa flavanols for three months performed better on a memory test than people who drank a low-flavanol mixture.
On average, the improvement of high-flavanol drinkers meant they performed like people two to three decades younger on the study’s memory task, said Dr. Scott A. Small, a neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center and the study’s senior author. They performed about 25 percent better than the low-flavanol group.
“An exciting result,” said Craig Stark, a neurobiologist at the University of California, Irvine, who was not involved in the research. “It’s an initial study, and I sort of view this as the opening salvo.”
He added, “And look, it’s chocolate. Who’s going to complain about chocolate?”
The findings support recent research linking flavanols, especiallyepicatechin, to improved blood circulation, heart health and memory in mice, snails and humans. But experts said the new study, although involving only 37 participants and partly funded by Mars Inc., the chocolate company, goes further and was a well-controlled, randomized trial led by experienced researchers.
Besides improvements on the memory test — a pattern recognition test involving the kind of skill used in remembering where you parked the car or recalling the face of someone you just met — researchers found increased function in an area of the brain’s hippocampus called the dentate gyrus, which has been linked to this type of memory.
“Boy, this is really interesting to see it in three months,” said Dr. Steven DeKosky, a neurologist and visiting professor at the University of Pittsburgh. “They got this really remarkable increase in a place in the brain that we know is related to age-related memory change.”
There was no increased activity in another hippocampal region, theentorhinal cortex, which is impaired early in Alzheimer’s disease. That reinforces the idea that age-related memory decline is different and suggests that flavanols might not help Alzheimer’s, even though they might delay normal memory loss.
But unless you are stocking up for Halloween, do not rush to buy Milky Way or Snickers bars. To consume the high-flavanol group’s daily dose of epicatechin, 138 milligrams, would take eating at least 300 grams of dark chocolate a day — about seven average-sized bars. Or possibly about 100 grams of baking chocolate or unsweetened cocoa powder, but concentrations vary widely depending on the processing. Milk chocolate has most epicatechin processed out of it.
“You would have to eat a large amount of chocolate,” along with its fat and calories, said Hagen Schroeter, director of fundamental health and nutrition research for Mars, which funds many flavanol studies and approached Dr. Small for this one. (“I nearly threw them out,” said Dr. Small, who added that he later concluded that the company employed serious scientists who would not bias the research.) Mars financed about half the study; other funders were the National Institutes of Health and two research foundations.
“Candy bars don’t even have a lot of chocolate in them,” Dr. Schroeter said. And “most chocolate uses a process called dutching and alkalization. That’s like poison for flavanol.”
Mars already sells a supplement, CocoaVia, which it says promotes healthy circulation, including for the heart and brain. It contains 20 to 25 milligrams of epicatechin per packet of powder or capsule serving, Dr. Schroeter said; 30 packets cost $34.95. Epicatechin is also in foods like tea and apples, although may be less absorbable.
The Columbia study had important limitations. For example, the only daily dietary requirements were either 900 milligrams of flavanols with 138 milligrams of epicatechin or 10 milligrams of flavanols with less than two milligrams of epicatechin, so participants could have eaten other things that played a role.
And while researchers also had half of the healthy but sedentary participants in each group exercise four days a week, surprisingly, the exercise had no effects on memory or brain effects.
Dr. Small, whose research previously found that exercise helped hippocampal function in younger people, suggested maybe more vigorous exercise is needed to affect older brains.
“It’s a very clever, interesting study, but there are some caveats,” said Dr. Kenneth S. Kosik, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “People are going to say, ‘It looks like I can have a lot of candy bars and not exercise.’ So it needs replication on a much larger scale.”
More extensive research is planned. As for why flavanols would help memory, one theory is that they improve brain blood flow; another, favored by Dr. Small, is that they cause dendrites, message-receiving branches of neurons, to grow.
“Everybody’s cautious about antioxidants, but this is a horse of a different color, a really elegant study,” Dr. DeKosky said.