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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Diet induced weight loss accelerates onset of negative alliesthesia in obese women

Patrick Frankham12, Caroline Gosselin and Michel Cabanac12*

Author Affiliations

1 Département d'Anatomie et Physiologie, Faculté de Médecine, Université Laval, Québec, CA

2 Groupe Interdisciplinaire de Recherche en Obésité (GIRO), Université Laval, Québec, CA

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BMC Public Health 2005, 5:112  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-5-112

Published: 18 October 2005



The physiological and behavioral responses to hypocaloric diet are to increase energy intake to defend a steady body weight. We utilized the method of "negative alliesthesia" for measuring the hedonic reponse to sweet stimulus before (Initial session) and 3 months after entering a weight loss program. The negative alliesthesia test is known by physiologists but few clinical data exist. It is based on the observation that repeated pleasant gustatory stimuli turn into unpleasantness in the process of alliesthesia. At first visit participants repeatedly ingested sweet stimuli until they found them unpleasant and rated quantitatively on a linear analogue scale their hedonic experience. This procedure was repeated every 3 min until participants felt displeasure to end the session. The same protocol was followed after three months of following a weight loss diet. Dieting energy intake was from 1400 – 2000 kcal/d for 8 wk. Energy composition was 50% carb:25% prot: 25% lipid. After 8 wk caloric intake increased by 50 kcal/wk, to reach daily intake of 1800 – 2400 kcal/d. Energy composition was 50% carb:22% prot: 27% lipid. We report results on the effect of slow weight loss on negative alliesthesia in ten obese female participants enrolled in a commercial diet program based on Canada's Food Guide (Mincavi®).


Results showed that diet lowered the mean BMI (Initial session 36.8 +/- 1.8 vs. 3 mo 34.9 +/- 1.8 kg/m2). At 3 mo the onset of negative alliesthesia, time to abandon experimental session, was shortened (Initial session 33 vs. 3 mo 24 min). The same trend was observed in the time to reach indifference (Initial session 21.9 +/- 3.8 vs. 3 mo 16.2 +/-2.4 min). There was no observed difference in maximum (Initial session +79.5 +/- 11.7; 3 mo +94.5 +/- 9.9 mm) and minimum (Initial session -90.0 +/- 14.4; 3 mo -106 +/- 11.1 mm) hedonic rating.


Earlier onset of negative alliesthesia, as seen in our participants, is not consistent with previous hedonic studies that showed delayed or absent negative alliesthesia in participants when below their initial body weight. Therefore, it is hypothesized that the accelerated onset of negative alliesthesia observed in our obese participants after weight loss is suggestive of a lowered body weight set-point. Factors inherent to the weight loss diet studied here, such as mild energetic restriction, lowered palatability, and diet composition, may have played a role in this experimental outcome.