Sweet taste reduces appetite?

Freising, November 10, 2020   To date, very little is known about how sweetness perception contributes to satiety. This study, conducted by an Austrian-German team led by chemists Veronika Somoza and Barbara Lieder, provides new insights into the relationship between the sweet taste of sugar, energy intake and the regulatory process of hunger and satiety. The study was published in the journal „Nutrients“.

08.12.2020 · FV Lebensmittel & Ernährung

The sweet taste of sugar is very popular worldwide. In Austria and Germany, the yearly intake per person adds up to about 33 and 34 kilograms, respectively. Thus, sugar plays an increasingly role in the nutrition and health of the population, especially with regard to body weight. However, little is known about the molecular (taste) mechanisms of sugar that influence dietary intake, independently of its caloric load.

Taste receptor and satiety regulation

“We therefore investigated the role of sweet taste receptor activation in the regulation of satiety,” says Veronika Somoza, deputy head of the Department of Physiological Chemistry at the University of Vienna and director of the Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology at the Technical University of Munich.

For this purpose, the scientists conducted a blinded, cross-over intervention study with glucose and sucrose. A total of 27 healthy, male persons, between 18 and 45 years of age, received either a 10 percent glucose or sucrose solution (weight percent) or one of the sugar solutions supplemented with 60 ppm lactisole. Lactisole is a substance that binds to a subunit of the sweet receptor and reduces the perception of sweet taste. Despite different types of sugar, all solutions with or without lactisole had the same energy content.

Two hours after drinking each of the test solutions, the participants were allowed to have as much as breakfast they wanted. Shortly before and during the 120-min waiting period, the researchers took blood samples in regular intervals and measured their body temperature. 

Additional 100 kilocalories on average

After the consumption of the lactisole-containing sucrose solution, the test persons had an increased energy intake from breakfast of about 13 percent, about 100 kilocalories more, than after drinking the sucrose solution without lactisole. In addition, the subjects of this group showed lower body temperature and reduced plasma serotonin concentrations. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and tissue hormone which, among other things, has an appetite-suppressing effect. In contrast, the researchers observed no differences after administration of the lactisole-containing glucose solution and the pure glucose solution.

“This result suggests that sucrose, regardless of its energy content, modulates the regulation of satiety and energy intake via the sweet taste receptor,” says Barbara Lieder, head of Christian Doppler Laboratory for Taste Research and also deputy head of the Department of Physiological Chemistry of the Faculty of Chemistry at University of Vienna. 

The first study author of the study, Kerstin Schweiger, University of Vienna adds: “We do not know yet why we could not observe the lactisole effect with glucose. However, we suspect it is because glucose and sucrose activate the sweet receptor in different ways. We also assume that mechanisms independent of the sweet receptor play a role.”

“So there is still a lot of research needed to clarify the complex relationships between sugar consumption, taste receptors and satiety regulation on the molecular level,” says Veronika Somoza. In particular, as sweet receptors are also found in the digestive tract and little is known about their function there. The first steps have nevertheless been taken.


Sweet Taste Antagonist Lactisole Administered in Combination with Sucrose, But Not Glucose, Increases Energy Intake and Decreases Peripheral Serotonin in Male Subjects: Schweiger K et al., Nutrients 2020, 12(10), 3133; www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/10/3133

Background information:

Lactisole is a chemical compound from the group of phenol ethers. In the USA, e.g., the substance is used in concentrations of 50 to 150 ppm in marmalades with a high sugar content in order to reduce the sweet taste and to promote the fruit flavours. 


This research was funded by the Symrise AG and the Austrian Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs, Christian Doppler Laboratory for Taste Research. The funders had no role in collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the manuscript; or in the decision to publish the result.


Prof. Dr. Veronika Somoza
Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology at the Technical University of Munich
Lise-Meitner-Str. 34, 85354 Freising
T: +49 8161 71 2700

Dr. Barbara Lieder
Head Christian Doppler Laboratory for Taste Research
University of Vienna, Faculty of Chemistry
Department of Physiological Chemistry
Althanstraße 14, 1090 Vienna
T: + 43 1 4277 70611

Press contact:

Dr. Gisela Olias
Knowledge transfer, press and public relations
Leibniz-Institute for Food Systems Biology
at the Technical University of Munich(Leibniz-LSB@TUM)
Lise-Meitner-Str. 34
85354 Freising, Germany
T: + 49 8161 71-2980

Alexandra Frey
Press office
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University of Vienna
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M +43-664-60277-175 33


Information about the Institute

The Leibniz Institute for Food Systems Biology at the Technical University of Munich (Leibniz-LSB@TUM) has a unique research profile. Its researchers combine methods of basic biomolecular research with analytical methods of bioinformatics and analytical high-performance technologies. Their goal is to decode the complex ingredient profiles from raw materials to the final food products and to elucidate their function as biological active molecules on humans. Based on their studies, the scientists develop products, which are as healthy as they are tasty. These foods will help to provide a sustainable and sufficient stream of food for future generations. In addition, the new scientific findings will be used to develop personalized nutritional concepts that, for example, help people with food intolerance without compromising quality of life and endangering their health.

The Leibniz LSB@TUM is a member of the Leibniz Association, which connects 96 independent research institutions. Their orientation ranges from the natural sciences, engineering and environmental sciences through economics, spatial and social sciences to the humanities. Leibniz Institutes devote themselves to social, economic and ecological issues. They conduct knowledge-oriented and application-oriented research, also in the overlapping Leibniz research networks, are or maintain scientific infrastructures and offer research-based services. The Leibniz Association focuses on knowledge transfer, especially with the Leibniz Research Museums. It advises and informs politics, science, business and the public. Leibniz institutions maintain close cooperation with universities - among others, in the form of the Leibniz Science Campuses, industry and other partners in Germany and abroad. They are subject to a transparent and independent review process. Due to their national significance, the federal government and the federal states jointly fund the institutes of the Leibniz Association. The Leibniz Institutes employ around 20,000 people, including 10,000 scientists. The entire budget of all the institutes is more than 1.9 billion euros.