Doctors may have found a new cause of middle-aged spread in women: an altered sense of taste that encourages cravings for sweet foods.
The study at Ankara University has found that 35 per cent of post-menopausal women who took part in tests had a loss in their perception of sweetness.
Nearly half, 45 per cent, also reported that their diet had changed in middle age to incorporate more sweet things.
Dr Cagri Delibasi, of the department of maxillofacial surgery, who led the study, says in the British Dental Journal today that women may unconsciously take more sugar.
He said: “Individuals with a loss of sensitivity to sweet tastes may sweeten foods with potentially serious consequences, especially for those with diabetes, cardiac disease or obesity.”
The women were tested with sucrose for sweetness, sodium chloride, for saltiness, citric acid for sourness and quinine for bitterness, in graded concentrations and asked to rate the tastes.