Hyper-palatable Foods: Know The Risks

Hyper-palatable Foods: Know The Risks

Today we will talk about hyper-palatable foods and their «dangers».

What does it mean if a Food has High Palatability?

The word palatability is used to allude to the quality of a food that makes it pleasant to the palate.

Highly palatable foods usually contain elevated percentages of sugar, fat, salt and flour in their composition. They have the peculiarity of creating addiction in people once they experience the pleasure of trying them.

Like drugs, highly palatable foods trigger chemicals in our brains that give us a sense of pleasure and satisfaction, which can lead to compulsion towards their consumption.

Alta palatabilidade

This is because they create a sense of need to eat them again and again without finding satiety.

Palatability is related to the functioning of the ways of gratification and reward in the brain.

For this reason, many processed foods include components that increase palatability in order to encourage their intake, regardless of the harmful health consequences they may cause.

Identify the highly palatable foods

The uncontrollable consumption of foods with high palatability by a large percentage of the population suffering from obesity, excess weight problems, among others, has attracted the attention of researchers in the field of Nutrition and Health.

This is why we seek to establish standard criteria to determine which foods are in order to identify them according to their nutritional information.

It is assumed that without a specific definition, it will be impossible to control problems of addiction toward the consumption of foods of high palatability by people, from a clinical point of view.

Hyper-palatable food

In this order of ideas, a recent study published by the journal “Obesity”, developed by Professor Tebra Fazzino and other collaborators at the Cofrin Logan Center for Addiction Research and Treatment, at the University of Kansas, reflects important findings regarding the composition of foods to be classified as highly palatable or hyper-palatable.

Combinacoes alimentos

Specifically they found that the key factor is the synergy between the ingredients of the food that makes it more appetising.

What are the highly palatable foods?

Such synergy was grouped into three combinations:

  1. Fat and sodium, present in hot dogs, pizza and bacon;
  2. Fat and simple sugars, common in cakes, pastries and ice cream;
  3. Carbohydrates and sodium, from crackers, chips and popcorn.

Also, the ratio of each component in the categories is as follows.

  • Fat and sodium (> 25% kcal of fat, ≥ 0,30% of salt in weight);
  • Fat and simple sugars (> 20% kcal of fat,> 20% kcal of sugar);
  • Carbohydrates and sodium (> 40% kcal of carbohydrates, ≥ 0.20% of sodium in weight);

It was also determined that 5% of foods with high palatability were marketed as low-fat, sugar, salt or calorie products.

Another data revealed in this study is that 62% of food consumed in the United States fall into one of the categories that apply to be considered hyper-palatable.

The study also highlights the harmful health effects of these foods and how they activate mechanisms in the brain that delay the feeling of satiety, causing their consumption to intensify by not being aware of when to stop.

Dangers of Consuming Hyper-palatable Foods

The taste of food is one of the main attributes that determine our purchase choice.

Less nutritious

Often, we choose to stop consuming nutritious products because they do not have this sensory characteristic that creates an appetite for us.

Less satiating

The mixing of components present in high palatability foods activates the response of our brain’s reward mechanism and leads us to eat without control, ignoring signs of satiety.

Creates addiction

Consumption of this type of food creates addiction that usually plays an important role in the development of obesity and excess weight.

Most hyper-palatable foods are also industrially processed and their intake can also cause risks of cardiovascular, coronary, and cerebrovascular disease.


On many occasions, we eat these foods at social gatherings.

Psychological damage

The worst thing in these cases is that the food-addicted person usually has problems stopping this behaviour and becomes a spiral that leads to depression and breakdown of family and social relationships.

This way the damage that is caused is both physical and psychological.

It is advisable to document the nutritional content of foods and avoid the consumption of those which create this harmful effect on our health, in addition to a lack of nutrients. Make sure you understand these labels thoroughly by consulting our article.

Measures to take

In most cases, the negative effects of eating hyper-palatable foods are long-term.

This is why many people are slow to realise the damage they cause and then it is difficult to get rid of bad eating habits.

To avoid this, one of the most important aspects is educating the population about the risks involved in the consumption of this type of food which are documented to be to the detriment of health.

Both medical professionals and the general public should be aware of certain combinations that make food more pleasing to the palate, but may condemn us to overeating.

Nutritional education

Why is it important to establish good habits in childhood? click here.

Keep in mind that hyper-palatable foods contain multiple ingredients that improve palatability and should be avoided.

What ingredients should be avoided?

Monosodium glutamate

It is a flavour enhancer that inhibits the feeling of satiety and invites you to eat compulsively, exceeding your own needs and even abilities.


Sugars added in foods are harmful because they are not metabolised in the same way as those naturally integrated into the composition of foods.


They are stimulants, and they generate addiction.

Animal fats and seed oils

It is recommended to eat foods that contain virgin olive oil and vegetable fats in their natural state, without subjecting them to high temperatures.

These are some of the ingredients that can be addictive and harmful to health, so understanding that information and restraint are great allies in preventing addictions.

Did you know about this aspect of food?

Bibliography sources

  1. “Tratado de Nutrición” Tomo III. Nutrición Humana en el Estado de Salud. Ángel Gil.
  2. “Factores asociados con sobrepeso y obesidad en el ambiente escolar” Guillermo Meléndez
  3. “Bases de la alimentación humana” Víctor Manuel Rodriguez Rivera y Edurne Simón Magro
  4. “Química y bioquímica de los alimentos II” Josep Boatella Riera, Rafael Codony Salcedo y Pedro López Alegret.

Related Entries

  • 7 Foods that Ruin your Diet. Discover them here.
  • We tell you all you need to know about Additives and Preservatives in this link.
  • Did you know this about Sugar? Click on this link.
Review of Hyper-palatable foods

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About María José García
María José García
María José has been linked to sport since she was a child when she entered and even competed in various sporting disciplines, such as skating, swimming and gymnastics.
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