Why are more people fat than thin

Chocolate experiment Wrong Perception: This is why obese people eat more

We Germans are getting bigger and bigger! More than half of the adults in 2017 were overweight, 16 percent even obese. The World Health Organization classifies adults with a body mass index (BMI) over 25 as overweight - over 30 is called obesity. But why do some of us actually eat a lot more than other people? Some get fat, others just stay slim. A study from the USA provides one of the answers to this question. It says: Obese - that is, obese people - rate the taste differently than normal and overweight people - at least when it comes to chocolate!

What Does Economics Have To Do With Diabetes Research?

It is actually an economics theory that gave diabetes researcher Linnea Polgreen and her team the idea for the study. The "law of diminishing marginal utility" states that the satisfaction of our needs with a certain good decreases with every further unit of this good consumed - so we are at some point satisfied.

This concept is introduced to economics students in every introductory textbook.

Linnea A. Polgreen, University of Iowa

And those textbook examples are very often about food, says Polgreen. "For example, your first slice of pizza gives you a lot of satisfaction, but your third or fourth slice decreases your satisfaction. Although we often use food as examples to explain the concept of marginal utility reduction, this phenomenon has not been tested empirically. "

The first piece of chocolate is the most delicious

Food is also referred to as "specific sensory satiety". In other words, the more of a food you eat, the less desire you have to eat more of it. The first piece of chocolate is just a lot tastier than the tenth. The researchers from the US state of Iowa now wanted to find out what role body weight plays in this perception of taste. That's why they did an experiment with 290 test subjects. They were either normal weight, overweight, or obese. Would the three groups differ in their taste perception? To find out, there was chocolate, says Aaron Miller of the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Iowa:

Participants could eat as much or as little as they wanted.

Linnea A. Polgreen

In order to be able to compare afterwards, the test persons received a health questionnaire beforehand, were measured and weighed. They were then allowed to eat the chocolate in a booth and then the test subjects rated their taste perception on a scale from one to ten.

There is a connection between taste and obesity

In addition, it was tested whether it makes a difference if the test subjects were informed beforehand about the nutritional values ​​of the chocolate and whether they are currently hungry or not. Diabetes researcher Polgreen sums up the result: "The taste perceptions in normal and overweight people were the same. We did not find any statistical differences between these two BMI categories."

In obese individuals, however, the taste perception was greater with each piece consumed. In other words, for each amount consumed, the overweight participants rated their satisfaction with these chocolate samples higher than the non-overweight participants.

Linnea A. Polgreen

So that means: No matter how much you eat, it always tastes better. So people with obesity had to eat more chocolate to have a similar drop in taste. Obese women would have had to eat two and a half pieces more to fall on the same taste level as the others. In total, the test subjects ate between two and more than 50 pieces of chocolate.

Our finding that subjects with obesity tend, on average, to report a higher degree of taste perception than the others, could explain why people with obesity may consume more than people of normal weight.

Linnea A. Polgreen

And it could help develop more effective therapies for obesity. Incidentally, the fact that the test subjects knew the nutritional values ​​had no influence on the perception of taste - but hunger did: Those who are hungry obviously also taste better.