When tested on the five taste sensations, obese children aged between six and 18 could identify tastes less precisely than those of a healthy weight.
The research, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, found the obese children were significantly less likely to identify the individual taste sensations correctly, particularly salty, savoury and bitter tastes. They classed sweet tastes as lower intensity than other children.
Previous research suggests a heightened sensitivity to different tastes may help to reduce the amount of food eaten as less is required to get the same taste sensation.
The study, conducted by German researchers, examined 99 obese children and 94 of a normal weight.
The children were given "taste strips" – pieces of filter paper – which had different concentrations of the five tastes on them, plus two blank strips.