Cigarette smoking among obese women interferes with the ability to taste fats and sweets, research shows. Despite craving high-fat and sugary foods, these women were less likely than others to perceive these tastes, which may drive them to consume more calories.

"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," said M. Yanina Pepino, an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis.

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, she added.

The researchers studied four groups of women ages 21 to 41: obese smokers, obese nonsmokers, smokers of normal weight and nonsmokers of normal weight.

The women tasted several vanilla puddings containing varying amounts of fat and were asked to rate them for sweetness and creaminess, a measure of fat content.
"Compared with the other three groups, smokers who were obese perceived less creaminess and sweetness. They also derived less pleasure from tasting the puddings," Pepino observed.

Interestingly, it was the combination of smoking and obesity that created something of a "double-whammy" because smokers who were not overweight could perceive fat and sweetness that was similar to women who did not smoke.

The findings imply that the ability to perceive fat and sweetness - and to derive pleasure from food - is compromised in female smokers who are obese. The findings were published in the journal Obesity.


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