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If you’ve ever plugged your nose and taken a bite of an onion, you know how tightly the senses of smell and taste are intertwined. But the link may be even closer than imagined.
Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that when the sense of smell in mice was intact, they gained twice as much weight as scent-deprived mice, even though they ate the same amount of fatty food. Moreover, mice with a heightened sense of smell gained even more weight on a high-fat diet than mice with a normal sense of smell who were on the same diet.
The fact that those equipped with better olfactory receptors are more inclined to gain weight, paired with evidence that the elderly who lose their sense of smell tend to lose weight faster, have led researchers to suspect that there may be a relationship between metabolism and the ability to detect odors.
While the results need further study, researchers are hoping their findings could eventually help fight obesity in humans (think: development of a nasal spray to temporarily kill odor-sensitive neurons before you chow down on your favorite fragrant foods).