Sensory Versus Nutritional Determinants of Intake

The major problem with the concept of sensory preference or palatability as determinants of hyper-phagia and obesity in humans is: (1) that there is little direct evidence for this effect per se (because the appropriate experiments are very difficult to carry out); and (2) both animals and humans appear to acquire sensory preferences for foods dense in readily available energy. Dissociation of the sensory characteristics and postingestive consequences of ingesting a food becomes difficult and perhaps artificial. It seems that at the present time the data from animal studies tends to suggest that maximal sensory preference for a food or diet is achieved when the sensory stimulus is reinforced by the metabolic consequences that form part of the satiety sequence. Indeed, there is controversial evidence that ingestion of one sensory stimulus (sweetness) without the associated nutrient (carbohydrate) promotes ingestion of energy shortly afterwards. The contribution of sensory and nutritional determinants of feeding is still poorly understood in humans.

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