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Moods Influence How Foods Taste, Study

Update Date: Jun 05, 2013 05:51 PM EDT

Feeling happy or sad can change oral perceptions of fat for mildly depressed individuals, according to a new study.

Researchers found that participants with mild, subclinical depression rate the taste of high-fat and low-fat foods similarly when in a positive or negative mood.

The study published in the journal PLOS ONE, looked at how non-pathological levels of depression, anxiety and experimentally manipulated moods could affect people's oral perceptions of fat and other taste stimuli like sweet, sour, bitter and umami flavors. 

Participants were scored for symptoms of depression and anxiety and shown films of happy, sad and neutral scenes from movies to put them in a positive, negative or neutral mood. 

The participants were asked to rate a series of liquids based on the intensity of flavor they experienced and gauge the fat content in milk samples by the way the liquid feels in their mouth.

The findings revealed that participants with mild, subclinical signs of depression were unable to tell the difference between a high-fat and low-fat milk sample after watching a happy or sad movie clip. However, they were able to distinguish between the two after watching a neutral movie clip.

Researchers found that participants with higher depression scores also rated bitter and sweet tastes as being more intense after watching the mood-inducing movie clips.

Researchers said the latest findings may have potential implications for unhealthy eating patters, as this inability to tell tastes apart may cause mildly depressed individuals to unconsciously eat more fatty foods.

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