Does eating good-tasting food influence body weight?

Publication Name: Physiology and Behaviour, 2017, March 1; 170: 27-31

Author(s): Tordoff MG, Pearson JA, Ellis HT and Poole RL. | Publication Year: 2017


Does eating good-tasting food influence body weight? To investigate, we first established some concentrations of sucralose and mineral oil in chow that mice strongly preferred. Then, in Experiment 1, we compared groups of 16 mice fed plain chow (i.e., chow with no additives) to groups fed chow with added (a) sucralose, (b) mineral oil, (c) sucralose and mineral oil, or (d) sucralose on odd days and mineral oil on even days. During a 6-week test, the body weights and body compositions of the five groups never differed. In Experiment 2, we compared groups of 18 mice fed plain chow or plain high-fat diet to groups fed these diets with added sucralose. During a 9-week test, the high-fat diet caused weight gain, but the body weights of mice fed the sucralose-sweetened diets did not differ from those fed the corresponding plain versions. Two-cup choice tests conducted at the end of each experiment showed persisting strong preferences for the diets with added sucralose and/or mineral oil. In concert with earlier work, our results challenge the hypothesis that the orosensory properties of a food influence body weight gain. A good taste can stimulate food intake acutely, and guide selection toward nutrient-dense foods that cause weight gain, but it does not determine how much is eaten chronically.


This animal study by Tordoff et al at Monell Center conducted a series of experiments using sucralose and mineral oil to assess the role of taste in driving overeating and weight gain and found that a feed sweetened with sucralose consumed for 6 weeks by mice did not lead to excess weight gain. In another experiment, the researchers fed mice a high-fat diet that is known to make mice obese. Mice fed this high-fat diet sweetened with sucralose got no fatter than did those fed the plain version (control group). The results indicate no post-ingestive effects of sucralose that cause body weight gain, and the authors concluded that, “Good taste can be used to attract consumers to nutrient-sparse foods without concern that this will adversely influence body weight.” A Press Release issued by Monell Center about this study by Tordoff et al can be accessed by clicking here.