There is a huge amount of interest in understanding what factors result in successful and sustained weight loss after obesity (bariatric) surgery, and why obesity surgery has such a high level of success compared to traditional approaches to weight loss.  One question that is being actively studies is whether obesity surgery has an effect on the perception of taste.

A recent review article by Papamargaritis and colleagues discusses what is currently known (and not known) about the changes in food choices that are often seen after obesity surgery.  A number of studies in animals, and a few studies in humans, have tried to answer this question.  It seems that gastric bypass surgery may alter detection thresholds for sweet stuff, and may also alter the morphine-like brain responses that are experienced after tasting sweets. Gastric bypass may also alter the drive away from fatty food, in favor of a preference for lower fat foods.

If obesity surgery does affect food preferences and taste, exactly how this happens is still a matter of debate.  The changes in some of the gut hormones that are seen after certain types of obesity surgery may play a role, and there is much ongoing research in this area.

I’ve certainly had a number of patients say to me that their taste experience of certain foods has changed after obesity surgery – I’d be thrilled to hear from my readers in terms of any experiences they have had.

Thanks to my friend Gord for the heads’ up on this article!

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2013 

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