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Sense of smell linked to obesity

16th November 2010

According to a new study by researchers at the University of Portsmouth, overweight people have a keener sense of smell than those of a normal weight.

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The study, which is in its early stages, could contribute to scientists' understanding about why some people have trouble remaining a healthy weight.

The research, which was published in the journal Chemical Senses, examined the link between smell and weight.

Scientists have already proved that the area of the brain which handles data about smells is linked to areas which control hunger.

In the UK, 25% of adults are obese and experts are worried that this number will increase in the future as more people gain weight.

Dr Lorenzo Stafford and his team asked 64 participants to be involved in a number of experiments to test how well their senses of smell worked.

The research revealed that the participants had an improved sense of smell after they had eaten rather than when they were hungry.

The team also found that overweight participants had a much keener sense of smell than slimmer participants, particularly after they had eaten.

Dr Stafford said: "It could be speculated that for those with a propensity to gain weight, their higher sense of smell for food related odours might actually play a more active role in food intake."

"Hopefully this research will stimulate more work in this area with the potential to help those who struggle with their weight and those who treat people with weight problems."

 

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