Hyper palatable foods

Hyper palatable foods are those foods that are so delicious that we tend to overeat them. Researchers have been trying to find out the reason and mechanism behind their overconsumption. Have the researchers been successful to find an answer for it?

Table of Contents

What are Hyper palatable foods?

All of us love and enjoy foods that are tasty. But some foods are so intensely delicious and appetizing that they make us overeat. These foods are the hyper palatable foods. And these include chips, ice cream, fried foods, cakes, crackers, bacon, sweet things. In short these foods are high in fats, sugars, and salt in some great combination.

Hyper palatable foods
Hyper palatable foods (Source: Pinterest)

These foods artificially create cravings within us for them. And they even develop in us addictions to them. They stimulate our appetite immensely. The combination of salt, sugar and fats in them is so unique that it is hardly present in the natural whole foods around. And these combination is almost always there in the ultra processed foods. But the overeating of such foods leads to weight gain and metabolic syndrome. What is the mechanism behind this overeating? How do they act at the molecular and metabolic level?

The study

The research team took up 35 recruits. They studied the 2700 meals that these participants had consumed in a previous NIH food study. And they found that the calories consumed in a day was more with hyper palatable foods. The journal Nature Food has published this study on 30 January 2023.

The scientists also found that the high calories intake that was present with hyper palatable foods remained so irrespective of the other foods of the diet. It did not matter if other foods were low carbs or low fats. And even with presence of other processed foods, these hyper delicious foods got eaten more. They also contributed to more calories overall.

Hyper palatable foods
NIH (Source: Wikipedia)

A previous study from same institute had shown that with ultra processed foods, total calories intake was 500 calories more than that with whole foods.

Mechanism of action

The highly delicious foods increase appetite and lure you to eat more. The exact mechanism remains ill-understood. And in this study, researchers found that protein in food was incapable to decrease the effect of overeating of the palatable foods. Normally, protein increases fullness and gives satiety. But in these foods, it failed to function that way.

Hence high protein ultra processed foods for weight loss might also not act. These are sold commercially as weight loss healthier meals but actually might not be so.

Hyper palatable foods
Ultra processed foods (Source: The Conversation)

Also, read RSPCA survey reveals that 70% people want to know the origin of the food they eat!

Moreover, the study revealed that hyper-eating was observed with faster eating and calories dense foods. Dr. Tera Fazzino, the lead author of the study and a psychology professor at the University of Kansas stated:

We hope to get the information about hyper-palatable foods out there for individuals to consider as they make dietary choices, and we hope that scientists continue to examine hyper-palatable characteristics as a potential factor influencing energy intake,”¬†