SMELL VERSUS WEIGHT
New research from the University of Otago has found a link between smell and obesity. Lead author of the study, Dr Mei Peng from the university’s Department of Food Science, says findings show a strong link between a person’s body weight and their sense of smell – the better a person can smell, the more likely they are to be slim or vice versa. The link between smell and body shape was previously a relatively unknown area of scientific study.
WHAT’S YOUR FLAVOUR?
Of the five senses, Dr Peng considers smell to be the least understood, but at the same time, it's perhaps the most important sense for influencing eating behaviour – how we detect and choose between different flavours. “We found that obese people's ability to detect and discriminate smell was not as efficient as slim people," she says. "This can result in obese people having a higher chance of making poor food choices because they will need other forms of stimulation to enjoy food. For example, they might be more attracted to saltier and tastier foods such as bacon and maple syrup, instead of blander foods such as low-fat cereal with less sugar."
MORE WEIGHT, LESS SMELL
Body weight has to pass a certain benchmark for the link to become obvious, so the reduction in ability to detect and discriminate between different smells was greater among people who were closer to being obese. The researchers hypothesise that once a person is obese, their metabolism alters, affecting the gut-brain signalling pathway.