Monday, 7 November 2016

Salt, obesity and bariatric surgery, any correlation?

            Obesity is a well establish 21st century epidemic in North America. Many factors go to the development and maintenance of obesity some of which include environmental, social, genetic, low levels of exercise, high caloric intake and mental health issues like depression. Obese individuals tend to have different taste and smell perceptions than those of their average weight acquaintances. Previous studies have looked at altered sweet, bitter and sour taste perceptions after surgery to induce weight loss, but little research has been done on alterations in salt perceptions. This study looks at salty taste perceptions between obese people and people of average weight, while also looking to see if there’s a change in perception of saltiness post-surgery.

            To test the questions posed in the above paragraph, researchers examined a 33 obese people before surgery and 19 after surgery against a control group of 29 people with body mass indexes (BMI) within a normal range. These three groups underwent an assessment for salty taste thresholds, liking for cream soup and answered a food questionnaire. First, the experiment to test salt threshold used various concentrations of salt dissolved in water and participants had to indicate whether or not salt was present. Second, cream soup was made from sour cream, tap water, flour and salt. Each participant had to taste the soup and then rank its likeability. Finally, the food questionnaire was a series of eight questions regarding preference for salt previous to the study. Using these three tests results were obtained.

The results of the experiments were as follows. First, with regards to salt thresholds, there was no difference between the thresholds of pre-operation obese, post-operation obese and control participants. Similarly, the food questionnaire didn’t find any major differences between the preference for salt in any of the three groups. Finally, in the soup experiment with soup 1 having the lowest salt concentration and soup 5 having the highest, obese participants liked soup 4 and the control group liked soup 2, but typically the male participants liked the soup, where as the females did not, regardless of group origin. Using the results from these three experiments the researchers came up with a few conclusions.

            To conclude, the results from this study indicated that obese people pre or post operation are no more likely than those of the general public to have a liking for salt. Interestingly men like cream soups more than women. Researchers reasoned that this difference could be due to different dieting tendencies between the sexes. Most importantly individuals thinking about getting weight loss surgery don’t have to worry about raging salt cravings post surgery when making their decision on whether or not to get the operation done.

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