Diet and Nutrition

The Smell of Food Can Control How Much You Eat

The Smell of Food Can Control How Much You Eat

A new study published in the journal Flavour show that food odors make a difference in the amount of food a person eats. The smell of the food influences the first bite and the additional bites. The study reports that when the concentration of the smell increases the bite size become small. A bite size is defined as the amount of food placed in the mouth at any one time.

In this study, the researchers focused on how intensity of aroma affects the amount eaten. Researchers report that there is a relatively small reduction in the bite size, in the order of 5% to 10% of food intake, because of the aroma. Bite size may be reduced when the people do not like a food or if it is unfamiliar. It also varies according to the texture of the food and how full the person feels.

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For this study, researchers observed 10 participants between the ages of 26-years-old and 50-years-old while they were eating a vanilla custard dessert. All the participants were asked to sit on a dentist chair and were provided with a nose device that delivered the smell of the dessert. A small tube was placed into their mouth to pump the required amount of custard. This method was chosen so that the researchers could vary the aroma of the food and measure the bite size in each participant. 

Participants could control the amount of custard fed into the mouth using a small push button. All the participants were randomly presented with one of the intensity of aroma – no smell, weak smell or a strong creamy smell. The taste of the custard remained the same throughout the experiment. Researchers observed that strong smells led to small bite size.

Rene de Wijk, PhD, at the Top Institute of Food and Nutrition and Wageningen University in the Netherlands, reports that as per the study results bite size was associated with the aroma presented for that bite and subsequent bites. When the food had lower flavor sensations, smaller bites were taken and there was an unconscious feedback loop using bite size to regulate the amount of flavor experienced. “A strong creamy aroma may make the custard seem thicker and creamier, and hence the bite size reduces," he adds.