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Taste sensitivity in anorexia nervosa: A systematic review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Emma Kinnaird, Catherine Stewart, Kate Tchanturia

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Early online date8 Jul 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Jul 2018

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Abstract

Objective: There is evidence for altered processing of taste in anorexia nervosa, particularly in the areas of reward processing and hedonic sensitivity. However, research on whether people with anorexia nervosa identify taste stimuli accurately, known as taste sensitivity, has yielded mixed findings. The objective of this study was to synthesize the literature on taste sensitivity in this disorder to provide a basis for future discussion on whether altered taste sensitivity may be also implicated in wider atypical taste processing in anorexia. Method: Electronic databases were searched systematically to identify published research examining taste sensitivity in anorexia. Search terms were “anorexia nervosa”, or “eating disorder”, combined with “taste”. 18 studies met inclusion criteria. Results: The review of the findings suggest that individuals with AN may experience reduced taste sensitivity that may improve following recovery. However, there was a significant variability in results across studies, potentially reflecting methodological problems including low sample sizes, experimental designs, and uncontrolled confounding variables. Discussion: This review suggests that altered taste sensitivity could represent a component in the wider altered taste processing observed in anorexia nervosa. However, the heterogeneity of findings highlight the need for future research to consider methodological issues raised by this review.

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