Smelling our appetite? The influence of food odors on congruent appetite, food preferences and intake

Paulina Morquecho-Campos*, Kees de Graaf, Sanne Boesveldt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We are surrounded by sensory food cues, such as odors, that may trigger (un)conscious decisions and even lead to (over)eating, it is therefore crucial to better understand the effect of food odors on behavioral responses. Food odor exposure has been shown to enhance appetite for food products with similar properties: sensory-specific appetite. This suggests that based on previous encounters with foods, we have learned to detect the nutritional content of foods, through our sense of smell. We investigated the influence of aware exposure of macronutrient-related odors on various measures of eating behavior, in a cross-over intervention study. Thirty two normal-weight healthy and unrestrained Dutch females took part in five test sessions. On each test session, they were exposed to one of five conditions (active smelling of clearly noticeable odors representing food high in carbohydrates, protein, and fat, low in calories, and a no-odor condition for 3-min) and assessed on specific appetite, food preferences and intake. Odor exposure increased congruent appetite after protein-related odor exposure. Similarly, protein-related odor exposure influenced the liking for protein foods and the preference ranking for savory products. However, food intake was not affected by smelling congruent food odors. Together this indicates that exposure to (aware) food odors may mostly influence appetite, but does not impact subsequent food intake. Moreover, appetite seems to be triggered by taste qualities rather than macronutrient information of the food, as signaled by olfactory cues. Future studies should investigate the role of awareness in more detail, to fully understand how odors might be used to steer people towards healthier food choices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103959
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Volume85
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

Keywords

  • Congruency
  • Eating behavior
  • Explicit exposure
  • Macronutrients
  • Olfaction
  • Sensory-specific appetite

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