Do Food Preferences Change After Bariatric Surgery?

Type Article

Journal Article


D. Gero; R. E. Steinert; C. W. le Roux; M. Bueter

Year of publication



Curr Atheroscler Rep








PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Insights into physiological mechanisms responsible for weight loss after bariatric surgery (BS) have challenged the traditional view that mechanical restriction and caloric malabsorption are major drivers of weight loss and health benefits after BS. Altered diet selection with an increased postoperative preference for low-sugar and low-fat food has also been implicated as a potential mechanism beyond mere reduction of calorie intake. However, the empirical support for this phenomenon is not uniform and evidence is largely based on indirect measurements, such as self-reported food intake data, which are prone to inaccuracy due to their subjective character. RECENT FINDINGS: Most studies indicate that patients not only reduce their caloric intake after BS, but also show a reduced preference of food with high sugar and high fat content. So far, standard behavioral tests to directly measure changes in food intake behavior after BS have been mainly used in animal models. It remains unclear whether there are fundamental shifts in the palatability of high-fat and sugary foods after BS or simply a decrease in the appetitive drive to ingest them. Studies of appetitive behavior in humans after BS have produced equivocal results. Learning processes may play a role as changes in diet selection seem to progress with time after surgery. So far, direct measures of altered food selection in humans after BS are rare and the durability of altered food selection as well as the role of learning remains elusive.