For centuries, the human palate was known to have five tastes: salty, sweet, umami, bitter, and sour. A sixth was added two years ago by scientists, who identified the sensation of fats as a whole new dimension of taste.

Now an Australian team has identified a seventh taste entirely its own: the perception of carbohydrates.

The enhanced sensitivity to the starch- and energy-rich molecules could be behind much of the obesity epidemic in modern life, they write today in The Journal of Nutrition.

“Interestingly, what we found in the fat taste studies was that the people who were more sensitive to fat consumed less fatty foods, but it’s the other way around for carbohydrates,” said Russell Keast, one of the authors, from Deakin University’s Centre of Advanced Sensory Science.

The scientists looked at the connection between taste sensation, dietary intake, and waist size.

The 34 participants’ palates were tested with the presence of the complex carbohydrates maltodextrin and oligofructose.

(Maltodextrin is produced from starch by hydrolysis, and is commonly used in sodas and candy; oligofructose is a naturally-occurring fiber in wheat and garlic and other produce, but which is also used as a food additive.)

The participants’ measurements were taken, and they also completed a food diary and questionnaire about their dietary habits, the scientists report.

The findings indicate that the people who could detect more of the carbs also ate more of them – and had bigger waistlines because of it, they add.

“Those who were most sensitive to the carbohydrate taste ate more of these foods and had a larger waist,” said Julia Low, of Deakin’s School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences.

Of course, the most sought after carbohydrate is sugar, due to its sweetness, said Keast.

However, the other carbohydrates apparently have their own lures to the palate, he added.

The sixth, fatty taste was dubbed “oleogustus” by the Purdue researchers who proposed its presence in the journal Chemical Sciences in July 2015. The fatty tastes are an overall unpleasant taste that augment and change the major five, by the modulation of acids cleaved off of triglycerides.