Leptin is an adipocyte-derived signalling molecule which plays a key role in the regulation of body weight and energy expenditure. Since its involvement in human eating behaviour is still poorly understood, we investigated whether the perception of palatability of food was related to fasting serum leptin levels. Twenty-six non-diabetic subjects, six men and twenty women of widely ranging age and body mass index, performed a standardized high-carbohydrate breakfast test. Palatability was evaluated with a visual analogue scale, body composition by bioelectrical impedance, serum leptin and plasma insulin by radioimmunoassay. Palatability was correlated to fasting serum leptin levels independently of body mass index, body fat mass and percentage of body fat (P< 0.01). No significant relation was observed with peaks of insulinaemia, integrated concentrations of insulin or insulin resistance indices. A stepwise regression analysis indicated that serum leptin gave the strongest predictive association with palatability. These results suggest that the leptin system may be involved in the regulation of human eating behaviour in relation to the perception of palatability of food.

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