Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Yet another obesity mechanism discovered

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From New Scientist:

Next time you guiltily devour a pot of ice cream, blame it on childhood illness. By damaging a nerve involved in the sensation of creaminess, ear infections may up the odds of obesity in later life.

A team led by Linda Bartoshuk at the University of Florida in Gainesville surveyed 1300 people, 245 of whom had a history of ear infections, and found that among the over-30s, those who had suffered from ear infections were twice as likely to be obese as those with no such history. A subsequent analysis of four US medical databases confirmed the link. Those who had suffered from ear infections also rated fattier foods as 18 per cent more pleasurable than the others.

Infections may damage the chorda tympani taste nerve, which is stimulated at the front of the tongue and passes through the middle ear to the brain, says Bartoshuk. She says that the nerve normally inhibits some of the creamy sensations of fatty foods, as part of a response that inhibits tactile sensations that would otherwise make us gag. But nerve damage would lower this inhibiting effect, making foods seem creamier and so more pleasurable.

“When you taste milk, it seems like cream,” says Bartoshuk, who used an anaesthetic to turn off the nerve, and then tasted foods. She presented the work at the American Psychological Association meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, on Thursday.

Written by Leisureguy

25 August 2008 at 1:32 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Science

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