Sense of Smell is the Source of Food Cravings

Jul 10, 2015 01:20 PM EDT | By DonDon Navidad

A postdoctoral fellow in psychiatry at Yale University, Barkha Patel said that researchers speculate curiously whether people who tend to struggle with obesity are  skilled or proficient at imagining smells, especially food odors. As food cravings are associated with obesity were shown in their previous research. And the vividness of a person's mental image of food is related the intensity of people's food intake.

The Barkha Patel' s research study found out that people who had had higher body mass indexes (BMIs) had more realistic mental depictions of odors and foods than people with lower BMIs. And their research considered that the best predictor of BMI out of all the measures is the olfactory imagery of a person.

The experiment of Barkha Patel was repeated with 57 new participants by the researchers, and still with the same results. The research is planned to be presented Friday, July 10 -  at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, a society that researches the science of eating and drinking behaviors.

Patel stated that a person who had higher BMIs or is an obese, is much better to imagine odors, both food and nonfood odors.

Barkha Patel said: "Being better able to imagine odors could intensify the craving experience, which in turn would encourage food consumption," Patel also said: "However, if the ability to imagine odors was disrupted by something like a walk, for example, perhaps cravings would diminish, and we wouldn't feel the need to eat."

According to Barkha Patel, the findings of their study may help other researchers to develop weight-loss programs that is better tailored for individuals. And in future studies -  scientists should assess people's imagery ability directly, instead of relying on self-reported measures.

Barkha Patel concluded in their research that people who can vividly imagine smells, such as freshly baked cookies or even wet paint - have the possibility to weigh more than people whose olfactory imaginations are less sharp.

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