Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date



A growing concern throughout the world, especially the United States, is the health of our population. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) performed in 2009-2010, approximately 35% of both men and women in the United States are obese (Flegal, 2012). In 2005, more than 300,000 deaths in the United States were attributed to obesity. However, the World Health Organization listed obesity as one of ten most preventable health risks (Wilborn, 2005).
Why, then, do we as a society struggle so much with our weight? Some, such as Swinburn, believe this trend of obesity can be attributed to the increasing availability, marketability, processing, and affordability of unhealthy food (Flegal, 2012). Here’s a question to be considered. Does our society actually have a taste preference for cheap, easy, and fatty fast food that is contributing to this epidempic?
It has long been known that the human taste system responds to stimuli in five categories: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami (Chen 2011). Could we add fat to that list? My thesis aims to assess the ability to produce free fatty acids from lipids in the oral cavity.



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