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Yo-yo dieters doomed by desserts.

If a diet has ever driven you to consider hijacking a dessert cart, take heart. Scientists are starting to investigate such intense cravings. A new study reveals that obese yo-yo dieters, compared with both lean people and obese people having stable weights, prefer sweeter, more fattening foods.

Scientists have yet to find ways to help yo-yo dieters effectively deal with their cake and cookie cravings. However, the new research suggests that taste-preference tests might potentially allow physicians to distinguish subtypes of obesity, which could help them tailor more individualized weight-loss plans for their patients, says Adam Drewnowski of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, a coauthor of the study.

The Michigan researchers asked 61 obese and 31 lean adults to sample a series of sugar solutions and mixtures resembling cake icings that contained varying concentrations of butter and sugar. Participants rated the sweetness and acceptability of the "foods" on a nine-point scale.

Overall, the obese and lean groups responded similarly, Drewnowski's team reports in the October AMERICAN JOURNAL OF CLINICAL NUTRITION. However, obese subjects with a history of weight fluctuations proved about 15 percent more likely to prefer mixtures with more fat and sugar than obese subjects who maintained stable weights.

Either of two theories might explain the results, Drewnowski says. Perhaps yo-yo dieting creates metabolic changes that caused this group to select increasingly calorie-dense foods--a phenomenon observed in rats. Or the weight-fluctuators may have inherited a taste preference for desserts that predisposes them to weight gain. Other studies have already suggested genetic components for obesity (SN: 11/18/89, p.327).

The difference in taste preferences between weight-stable and weight-fluctuating persons underscores that obesity has complex multiple origins involving both genetic and environmental factors, the researchers say.
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Title Annotation:why obese people crave fattening foods
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 26, 1991
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