Obesity is Killing Off People’s Taste Buds, and Now Scientists Can Explain Why

(From Quartz.com)

Through the years scientists have gleaned that obesity can impact a person’s ability to taste, but until recently it’s been unclear why.

Researchers at Cornell University report the discovery that, in mice, a tiny amount of inflammation driven by obesity actually reduced the number of taste buds on their tongues. Their work was published this week (March 20) in the journal PLOS Biology, and it may wind up aiding the development of new therapies to alleviate what’s called “taste dysfunction” among people who suffer from obesity.

The Cornell scientists attributed the loss of taste buds in the lab mice to the build-up of a fatty tissue called adipose, one of the body’s tools for storing fat. Adipose produces little proteins called cytokines, which can cause inflammation, and upset the balance of cell death and renewal.

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