Weight-Loss Drug May Alter Taste Perception, Reducing Sweet Cravings

semaglutide changes sweet cravings

A new study suggests that popular weight-loss medications Ozempic and Wegovy (both containing semaglutide) might work by enhancing taste sensitivity, leading people to crave sweets less.

Researchers presented their findings at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, indicating that semaglutide appears to influence how the tongue and brain process sweet flavors.

“People with obesity often have a dulled sense of taste and a stronger desire for sugary, high-calorie foods,” explained lead researcher Mojca Jensterle Sever, an endocrinologist from Slovenia.

The study involved obese women who were randomly assigned either semaglutide injections or a placebo for four months. Researchers monitored their taste sensitivity using taste strips with varying intensity levels. Brain activity in response to a sweet solution was also tracked using MRI scans before and after meals. Additionally, tongue tissue samples were analyzed to assess genetic activity.

Women taking semaglutide exhibited changes in taste perception, gene expression in taste buds, and brain response to sweetness. These alterations mirrored observations in animal studies.

“These findings may correlate with patient reports about changes in food preferences, beyond just the general appetite and satiety effects that aid weight loss,” Jensterle Sever commented.

However, the researcher emphasized the need for further studies due to the lab setting and individual variations in taste perception. Future research will determine if semaglutide’s effectiveness hinges on taste modifications.

It’s important to note that findings presented at medical meetings are considered preliminary until published in peer-reviewed journals.