Soft Drink Logo An astonishing after-effect of sugary drinks seems to have come into the limelight. A recent study by academics from the universities of Bristol and Bangor claims that overweight and obese people have a dulled sensitivity to the sweetness of soft drinks but an enhanced subconscious liking of sweet food. The study possibly has major health implications for people with a sweet tooth.

Even if people are not overweight, drinking two sugary drinks a day for just four weeks allegedly dulls sensitivity towards taste sensation and elevates preference for sweeter tastes, particularly in people who did not already have a sweet tooth. In the study trial, both lean and obese people were tested to rate their perception of and enjoyment of sweet and salty tastes. Initially overweight and obese participants purportedly rated identical drinks as being less sweet in their perception, than that of the lean participants.

“This has serious implications for public health. This research shows how little sweet food stuffs are required to actually change your taste perceptions and how powerful sweet tasting products are. We are heading for a multi-level health disaster with rising obesity levels and the increasing incidence of type 2 diabetes. From our research it is clear to see how this situation may have created a cycle of sweet food and drink consumption. As taste satisfaction levels drop; the more sweet foods are consumed, contributing to these problems,” said Dr Hans-Peter Kubis at the University of Bangor’s School of Sport, Health & Exercise Sciences, who led the study.

During further experiments including a computer based test, experts observed that overweight and obese participants had a stronger preference for sweet than lean. It was asserted that overweight and obese participants have decreased sensitivity to sweetness but a high subconscious preference for sweet food. For testing whether sweet food consumption is the reason behind these findings and whether the taste perception of obese people can be recreated, another experiment was initiated. In this experiment, authors discovered that in as little as four weeks the dulling of the ‘sweetness’ of sugary drinks can be replicated and the enjoyment too can be reduced by simply repeating consumption.

In the course of the study, it was also suggested that parents should encourage their children to drink water when thirsty instead of sugary drinks.