Obesity: changes to taste and smell after weight loss surgery

There are changes in appetite, taste and smell for patients who had undergone Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, a study finds.

A new study conducted by a research team at Leicester Royal Infirmary suggests these changes may contribute to the accelerated weight loss seen after surgery.

The Roux-en-Y procedure involves creating a small stomach pouch, about the size of a golf ball. The pouch is then attached to the small intestine to create a new way for food to pass. The upper part of the small intestine is bypassed so that there is reduced absorption of food resulting in weight loss.

The research team, led by Lisa Graham, Laparoscopic Nurse Specialist and David Bowrey, Consultant Surgeon presented a questionnaire to 103 patients who had undergone weight loss surgery at the Leicester Royal Infirmary between 2000 and 2011. Patients were asked 33 questions about changes to their appetite, taste and sense of smell, before and after surgery.

Published in Obesity Surgery, the paper revealed that 97% of the respondents noticed a change – heightened or reduced – in their appetite. 73% noticed that their taste palate had altered, especially for sweet and sour foods. 42% said their sense of smell had altered and nearly three quarters had acquired a dislike for certain foods, especially meat (33%) and starchy products (12%).

Lead author, Lisa explained: “These subjective changes are very common after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and patients are routinely informed about them but what was interesting was the correlation between the newly developed dislike for certain foods and the amount of weight lost.”

On average patients who experienced sensory changes with certain food groups lost 18 pounds more than those who did not, with a higher reduction in body mass index (BMI) also noted.

Read the full paper.