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J Nutr. 2016 Apr;146(4):838-45. doi: 10.3945/jn.115.226365. Epub 2016 Mar 2.

Salt Promotes Passive Overconsumption of Dietary Fat in Humans.

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Centre for Advanced Sensory Science, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia.
Centre for Advanced Sensory Science, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia



Excess fat consumption has been linked to the development of obesity. Fat and salt are a common and appetitive combination in food; however, the effect of either on food intake is unclear. Fat taste sensitivity has been negatively associated with dietary fat intake, but how fat taste sensitivity influences the intake of fat within a meal has, to our knowledge, not yet been investigated.


Our objectives were, first, to investigate the effects of both fat and salt on ad libitum food intake and, second, to investigate the effects of fat taste sensitivity on satiation responses to fat and whether this was affected by salt.


Forty-eight healthy adults [16 men and 32 women, aged 18-54 y, body mass index (kg/m(2)): 17.8-34.4] were recruited and their fat taste sensitivity was measured by determination of the detection threshold of oleic acid (18:1n-6). In a randomized 2 × 2 crossover design, participants attended 4 lunchtime sessions after a standardized breakfast. Meals consisted of elbow macaroni (56%) with sauce (44%); sauces were manipulated to be1) low-fat (0.02% fat, wt:wt)/low-salt (0.06% NaCl, wt:wt),2) low-fat/high-salt (0.5% NaCl, wt:wt),3) high-fat (34% fat, wt:/wt)/low-salt, or4) high-fat/high-salt. Ad libitum intake (primary outcome) and eating rate, pleasantness, and subjective ratings of hunger and fullness (secondary outcomes) were measured.


Salt increased food and energy intakes by 11%, independent of fat concentration (P= 0.022). There was no effect of fat on food intake (P= 0.6), but high-fat meals increased energy intake by 60% (P< 0.001). A sex × fat interaction was found (P= 0.006), with women consuming 15% less by weight of the high-fat meals than the low-fat meals. Fat taste sensitivity was negatively associated with the intake of high-fat meals but only in the presence of low salt (fat taste × salt interaction on delta intake of high-fat - low-fat meals;P= 0.012).


The results suggest that salt promotes passive overconsumption of energy in adults and that salt may override fat-mediated satiation in individuals who are sensitive to the taste of fat. This trial was registered at the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ( as ACTRN12615000048583.


ad libitum food intake; fat; fat taste sensitivity; salt; satiation

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