(HealthDay News) — Some people can’t taste food as well after undergoing bariatric surgery, but this side effect may help them shed more weight, according to research presented at ObesityWeek 2014, the annual meeting of The Obesity Society, held from November 2–7 in Boston.

The study included 88 severely obese people, average age 49, who underwent taste tests before and three, six, and 12 months after bariatric surgery. Researchers found that 87% of the patients had taste changes after bariatric surgery, including 42% who said they ate less because food didn’t taste as good. However, patients with decreased taste intensity lost 20% more weight over three months than those with increased taste intensity.

“In our clinical experience, many patients report alterations in their perception of taste after bariatric surgery. However, little evidence exists as to how and why these changes affect weight loss after surgery,” study author John Morton, MD, of the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, said in an American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) news release. “It appears it’s not just the flavor that influences weight loss, it’s the intensity of the flavor. Patients with diminished taste intensity lost the most weight. A potential application to these findings may include teaching taste appreciation in hopes of increasing weight loss.”

Jaime Ponce, MD, medical director for the Hamilton Medical Center Bariatric Surgery Program in Dalton, Ga., and ASMBS immediate past-president, noted in the news release that “the study provides excellent new insight on taste change after bariatric surgery.” But Ponce added that “more research is needed to see how we can adjust for taste perception to increase weight loss.”

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