Changes in sweet taste across pregnancy in mild gestational diabetes mellitus: Relationship to endocrine factors

Lisa M. Belzer, John C. Smulian, Shou En Lu, Beverly J. Tepper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is glucose intolerance diagnosed during pregnancy. Previous work suggested that women with GDM showed exaggerated preferences for sweet taste, but data were limited to a single time point during pregnancy. This study longitudinally assessed sweet taste changes across pregnancy in women who developed GDM (n = 15) as compared with women with normal glucose tolerance (NGT; n = 93) and nonpregnant controls (n = 19). A second objective was to relate sweet taste changes in GDM to fasting leptin and insulin profiles. Following an overnight fast, subjects evaluated strawberry-flavored milks varying in sucrose and fat content, as well as glucose solutions. Evaluations were made at 3 time points during pregnancy and during early postpartum. At 34-38 weeks gestation, women with GDM gave higher liking ratings to moderately sweetened (5% and 10% sucrose) strawberry milks than women with NGT. These differences were not related to alterations in the perception of the samples. At 24-28 weeks gestation, and in women with GDM only, fasting insulin was correlated with liking of the glucose solutions (R2 = 0.63, P = 0.004) and fasting leptin was correlated with sweetness liking of the 10% sucrose milk (R2 = 0.42, P = 0.017). These data suggest that women with GDM exhibit higher liking ratings for a sweet fat milk drink late in pregnancy. Also, higher hedonic ratings for sweet taste in GDM may be related to elevated leptin and insulin concentrations at midpregnancy. GDM may increase the desire for sweet taste that could influence dietary management of this disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)595-605
Number of pages11
JournalChemical senses
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Gestational diabetes
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Sweet taste


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