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Having Poor Taste Can Lead To Weight Loss

I had an interesting dialog with Dr. Bruce Campbell recently.  In his blog he described a patient  who lost about 60 pounds after losing his sense of taste.  The patient had undergone radiation therapy for throat cancer, and in the process lost his ability to taste food.  He soon lost interest in eating, and eventually dropped 60 pounds – not from the cancer, but from the side effect of radiation therapy.  In this case there was a happy ending (his sense of taste eventually returned and he regained some of his weight) but it made me think about the relationship of flavor to obesity.

Just as I was musing on this very fact, a new research study was published in the journal Neurology.  It suggested that unexplained weight loss was an early warning sign of dementia.  They speculate that this could be linked to another early sign of dementia: loss of the sense of smell.  Of course taste is largely a function of smell, so we can easily understand how people lose interest in eating when they can’t enjoy the flavor of food.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could temporarily alter a person’s sense of taste in order to affect weight loss?  I doubt I’m the first to think of this… has anyone else heard of such a strategy?  Surely this would be a little bit less invasive and dangerous than bariatric surgery.

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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3 Responses to “Having Poor Taste Can Lead To Weight Loss”

  1. EricSEA says:

    Sure.  In fact, one of the most unintentionally awkward product names of all time was attached to a product that did just that . . .


    The Diet Candy!

    Contrary to the Wikipedia article, AYDS did not use PPA as an active ingredient – at least not always.  The chewy candies (made under contract by Kraft at one point) were loaded with 6mg of benzocaine.   The instructions were to chew, and then have a glass of water or a hot beverage before meals – voila, taste reduction and volume in the stomach.


  2. RH Host Melissa says:

    That is an interesting idea…..Thanks!  

  3. sandy_langreck says:

    This is crazy if there is a drug that can do that then we can also cure addiction to smoking.  Not to mention oral ofixiation… why wouldn’t we?  I used to weigh 210 and now I weigh 158 lbs. but I have been as low as 138 #s and it fluxuates, one month quit smoking…next month feel guilty about weight gain…next month try to quit smoking…yadayadayada.  This would seem to be something that the pharmacutical companies would jump on, with the obesity and the big demand for our nation to be smoke free… SEEMS LIKE A NO BRAINER!

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