Well, smelling is bad now. A new study from UC Berkley found that smelling food before eating it can trigger the body to store fat instead of burning it, leading to weight gain. Somehow, olfactory senses affect metabolism and appetite that much. So, good news to anyone whose least favourite of the five senses is scent.
The study, published in Cell Metabolism, was conducted on mice, and is therefore preliminary, but the results were fairly straightforward: Mice with a "super" sense of smell gained much more weight when fed a high-fat "Burger King diet" than mice without a sense of smell, and mice with a normal sense of smell also gained more than the no-smell mice. Additionally, the no-smell mice only gained 10 percent of their original weight on the fatty diet, while normal mice gained up to 100 percent. It worked in reverse, too: When obese mice were stripped of their sense of smell, they shrunk to the size of the normal mice without a change in diet.
There may be something to temporarily blocking sense of smell in obese people to knock out food cravings or overeating, the researchers said. But that isn't to say the latest weight loss craze will be as simple and cost efficient as plugging your nose. Blocking scent prevents taste buds from picking up on any flavor in food. "People that don't have a sense of smell can get depressed, because the sense of smell is very important for behavior," researcher Celine Riera told SFGate. "They lose all pleasure of eating." Guess we'll stick with kale.