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Physiol Behav. 1992 Feb;51(2):371-9.

Taste responses and preferences for sweet high-fat foods: evidence for opioid involvement.

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Program in Human Nutrition, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor 48109-2029.


Preferences and cravings for sweet high-fat foods observed among obese and bulimic patients may involve the endogenous opioid peptide system. The opioid antagonist naloxone, opioid agonist butorphanol, and saline placebo were administered by intravenous infusion to 14 female binge eaters and 12 normal-weight controls. Eight of the binge eaters were obese. During infusion, the subjects tasted 20 sugar/fat mixtures and were allowed to select and consume snack foods of varying sugar and fat content. Naloxone reduced taste preferences relative to baseline in both binge eaters and controls. Total caloric intake from snacks was significantly reduced by naloxone in binge eaters but not in controls. This reduction was most pronounced for sweet high-fat foods such as cookies or chocolate. No consistent effects on taste preferences or food intakes were observed with butorphanol. Endogenous opioid peptides may be involved in mediating taste responses and preferences for palatable foods, notably those rich in sugar and fat.

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