Usually the enticing smell of food is associated with hunger pangs, but researchers in the Netherlands think that foods can be engineered to release satiating aromas during chewing. This would help combat obesity by stimulating areas of the brain that signal fullness. In a paper published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the researchers outline how food products could be tailored to release a higher quality -- or a higher quantity -- of aromatic food molecules, thus discouraging overeating.
Admittedly, the idea of the smell of food making us feel full rather than hungry seems a bit dubious, but it turns out it's not. "This is not a crazy paper," Dr. Linda Bartoshuk, an expert on taste and smell at the University of Florida, told PopSci. "This research, however, is very preliminary."
The link between retronasal aroma -- that's the aroma that you smell when you are ingesting food, when molecules from the food come in contact with your olfactory senses from the inside rather than through your nose -- and satiation is long established. There are even products on the market -- everything from sprinkles you can put on your food to aroma pens -- aimed at helping dieters eat less by subjecting them to certain smells that induce satiety. But the Dutch team suggests food itself could be engineered to produce more intense or longer-lasting satiating aromas that will make people feel full more quickly.
The science works like so: When you eat, certain molecules break free from the food as you chew, working their way up to your nasal cavity and to your olfactory sensors. From there, they've been shown to stimulate certain areas of the brain connected with satiety, or the feeling of fullness. The problem is, like many processes in the brain, the feeling is based on perception, and that varies from person to person.
The researchers acknowledge the idea that some people perceive retronasal aroma stimuli differently than others, but in their data they do point out one important finding: in tests where subjects were free to eat as much as they wanted, subjects who experienced a higher extent of retronasal aroma release freely chose to consume less food. The findings suggest that if food could be engineered -- using additives to increase aftertaste, by making certain aromas linger, or even by packaging food such that it is consumed in smaller bites -- could prolong the sensation of retronasal aroma release, making the diner feel more full faster.
"They have not measured the perception of the volatiles [aromatic molecules], and that's a big piece, because it's perception of the volatiles, not the volatiles themselves, that affects satiety," Bartoshuk said. "But there's every reason to think that increased volatiles will result in increased perception."
More research is clearly needed, Bartoshuk says, and even then this avenue may not deliver a treatment for overeating. Then there's the question of whether or not food companies would actually want to tailor food that induces consumers to eat less. But the idea of a mouth-watering burger preprogrammed to be less mouth-watering by the bite is the kind of science that really whets our appetites.
Nothing like giving fat people the taste of donuts without the nut!
What about us skinny asses that already have to spend an arm and a leg to maintain weight. The government or whoever has no right to put all of us on diets. To give you an idea of consumption although slightly slower now I used to be able to handle 3-5 meals a day of about 7000-12000 calories each. With that I was 6ft3in fluxing between 135-145. To give you a visual idea when all this was calculated I was in basic training consuming the largest meals out of all the people in the chow hall. Each meal was over 3 pounds.
In short please no forced diet medicines, or cures. I can't afford it fiscally (more food to buy) or on my waste line. Bad enough the wind blows I have to moor myself to a concrete slab so I don't blow away.
o I have an idea run a gene test on me find out why I metabolize so well and graph those genes into the children of the future. Sure they will eat through the resources, but they wont be fat.
i agree with xlndr, this may be good for people on diets, but what about people who need to eats tons of food to maintain weight? also, wont this hurt all the major food companies and restaurants? if people are full longer and faster, then they wont need to buy as much food. what will that do to the economy?
I am sure this could be just as effective as any diet out there. Far too many people that want to lose weight don't do it because they just can't control their eating patterns.
I'm not sure this is such a good idea. Why do we keep trying to change nature? I see a couple of problems with this.
1. You get anorexics abusing it
2. People stop learning self-control with dieting and exercise. They just depend on science to solve their issues.
3. Healthy people start feeling fast too soon and don't get the proper nutrition due to that "full feeling" and so they become malnourished and unhealthy.
In general, I'm glad scientists understand the connection between food and the sense of smell, but let's leave it alone. It sounds like trying to enhance the sense of taste with MSG. And that didn't pan out so well.
Now this would be an absolute miracle for some people who have what I term unhealthy eating habits, and or, easting disorders. Imagine a world of healthy humans. If we can achieve this by encouraging the brain to this it is full, we can surely use this many other disorders and problematic behaviors.
What a godsend this would be. While there are a lot of good diets out there, few of them happen to be easy diets. Engineering the aroma would make all diets considerably easier to maintain.