Obese adults better at imagining odours

The ability to vividly imagine the smell of popcorn, freshly baked cookies and even non-food odours is greater in obese adults, says a study led by an Indian-origin researcher.

New York: The ability to vividly imagine the smell of popcorn, freshly baked cookies and even non-food odours is greater in obese adults, says a study led by an Indian-origin researcher.

Differences in the ability to image odours, especially food odours, might promote food cravings, the results said.

"These results highlight the need for a more individualistic approach in identifying factors that may increase risk for weight gain," said study lead author Barkha Patel, post-doctoral fellow at Yale School of Medicine in the US.

People vary greatly in their ability to imagine the smell of freshly baked bread or the sweet aroma of a bouquet of roses.

In the study, participants completed a series of questionnaires that asked them to imagine both visual and odour cues and then to subsequently rate the vividness of these cues.

The researchers found that individuals with a higher body mass index (BMI) reported greater ability to vividly imagine food and non-food odours.

The results will be presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behaviour (SSIB) at Denver, in Colorado.

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