In a study using mice, researchers at UC-Berkeley say smelling food could cause your body to store fat rather than burn it.
“Sensory systems play a role in metabolism. Weight gain isn’t purely a measure of the calories taken in; it’s also related to how those calories are perceived,” said senior author Andrew Dillin.
“If we can validate this in humans, perhaps we can actually make a drug that doesn’t interfere with the smell but still blocks that metabolic circuitry. That would be amazing.”
The results showed mice that couldn’t smell put on less weight than mice with an excellent sense of smell, despite eating the same high-fat diet. The non-smelling mice also lost weight quicker.
Researchers hope their findings could be used to help people with eating disorders who have lost their sense of due to age, injury or developing diseases such as Parkinson’s.
It could also help those who struggle to lose weight.
While the idea of switching off someone’s sense of smell temporality to trick the brain into burning fat is exciting for some, as noted here, “there are risks”.
“People that don’t have a sense of smell can get depressed,” the lead researcher explains. “They lose all pleasure of eating.”