June 4, 2024 – Sofia Spieler, a Boston public relations  professional who has been losing weight on Wegovy, said her “snack  monster” has essentially disappeared after she's had a lifelong sweet  tooth. 

“In the past, hearing words like 'Sour Patch  Kids' used to make my mouth water. Now I don’t feel the need to find the  treat for myself. I do find I want something small from time to time,  but a bite of chocolate or a glass of wine usually satiates me.”

New research suggests Spieler isn’t alone. 

Semaglutide,  found in weight loss drugs Ozempic and Wegovy, has been found to  improve sensitivity to taste, perhaps explaining another way the  medications help change food preferences and lead to weight loss.

These drugs, also known as GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1)  receptor agonists, also changed gene expression in the tongue  responsible for taste perception and changed the brain’s reward response  to sweet tastes, researcher Mojca Jensterle Sever, PhD, of the  University Medical Centre, Ljubljana, Slovenia, told those attending  ENDO 2024, the annual Endocrine Society meeting, Saturday in Boston.

The study was small, including only 30 women with obesity. But in a news conference, Sever said it builds on previous research. 

“Some studies report that individuals living with obesity often perceive tastes as less intense," she said. Other research suggests that people who are more sensitive to certain tastes are  likely to consume less of those foods, and those with lower sensitivity  may eat more. “Populations that are prone to obesity have an inherently  elevated desire for sweets and energy-dense foods,” Sever said. 

Study Details

To  focus on the impact of semaglutide on taste perception, the researchers  randomly assigned 30 women, average age 33.7 with a BMI of 36.4 – any  BMI over 30 is considered obese – to either 1 milligram of semaglutide  or a placebo. 

The researchers measured their taste  sensitivity for 16 weeks, using taste strips with 4 concentrations of  sweet, salty, and bitter tastes. Brain responses to a sweet solution  dripping onto the tongue before and after a meal were measured with  functional MRI. Small tissue samples were also taken from the women’s  tongues.