Study of the Day: Modifying Food's Scent Can Help You Lose Weight

New research in the just-launched journal Flavour shows strong aromas lead to smaller bites and could be used to control portion size.

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PROBLEM: We often take smaller bites when we ingest food that's unfamiliar or tough, and eating this way often makes us feel fuller sooner. Can a food's aroma affect bite size as well and potentially aid people who are dieting?

METHODOLOGY: Researchers from the Netherlands led by Rene A de Wijk fed a custard-like vanilla dessert to 10 subjects over 30 trials. Various concentrations of cream aroma were simultaneously presented directly to the noses of the participants, who were able to control how much dessert was fed to them by pushing a button.

RESULTS: Aroma intensity positively affected the size of the subjects' corresponding bite as well as that of subsequent bites.

CONCLUSION: Strong scents lead to smaller bite sizes and may be used to control portion size.

IMPLICATION: Manipulating the odor of food could assist in weight loss by fooling the body into thinking it's full with a smaller amount of food and reducing intake per bite by five to 10 percent.

SOURCE: The full study, "Food Aroma Affects Bite Size," is published in the journal Flavour.

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Hans Villarica writes for and produces The Atlantic's Health channel. His work has appeared in TIME, People Asia, and Fast Company.

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