Associations between liking for fat, sweet or salt and obesity risk in French adults: a prospective cohort study

Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2016 13:74

Lampuré A, Castetbon K, Deglaire A, Schlich P, Péneau S, Hercberg S, Méjean C.

BACKGROUND:

Individual sensory liking appears to be an important determinant of dietary intake and may consequently influence weight status. Cross-sectional studies have shown positive association between fat liking and weight status and equivocal results regarding salt and sweet liking. Moreover, the contribution of dietary intake to explain this relationship has not been studied yet. We investigated the prospective association between sensory liking for fat, sweet or salt and the onset of obesity over 5 years in adults, and the mediating effect of dietary intake.

METHODS:

We prospectively examine the risk of obesity among 24,776 French adults participating in the NutriNet-Santé cohort study. Liking scores and dietary data were assessed at baseline using a validated web-based questionnaire and 24 h records, respectively. Self-reported anthropometric data were collected using web-based questionnaire, each year during 5 years. Associations between quartiles of liking for fat, sweet or salt and obesity risk, and the mediating effect of diet were assessed by multivariate Cox proportional hazards models stratified by gender, adjusted for sociodemographic and lifestyle factors.

RESULTS:

In both genders, sensory liking for fat was associated with an increased risk of obesity (hazard ratios for quartile 4 compared to quartile 1, men: HR(Q4vs.Q1) = 2.39 (95% CI 1.39,4.11) P-trend = 0.0005, women: HR(Q4vs.Q1) = 2.02 (1.51,2.71) P-trend = <0.0001). Dietary intake explained 32% in men and 52% in women of the overall variation of liking for fat in obesity. Sensory liking for sweet was associated with a decreased risk of obesity (men: HR(Q4vs.Q1) = 0.51 (0.31,0.83) P-trend = 0.01, women: HR(Q4vs.Q1) = 0.72 (0.54,0.96) P-trend = 0.035). No significant association between salt liking and the risk of obesity was found.

CONCLUSIONS:

Unlike sweet and salt liking, higher liking for fat appears to be a major risk factor of obesity, largely explained by dietary intake. Our findings emphasize the need to centrally position sensory liking in obesity prevention.