Obese people gaining weight because of their sense of smell?

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Researchers have revealed that obese people have heightened ability to imagine odours and can more vividly image the smell of different food and this is possibly the reason why obese people continue to gain weight, a new study has found.

According to a study by researchers at Yale University, obese people are far more capable of imagining the smell of food including pizzas, burgers, popcorn, freshly baked biscuits, and other such items. Scientists based their study on Kavanagh’s Elaborated Intrusion Theory of Desire, which proposes that creating vivid mental images stimulates and maintains food cravings triggered by the thought, smell and sight of food.

Although previous research demonstrates that food cravings occur more often in obese individuals, the role of odor imagery ability in this link had not been examined. If individuals with higher body weights report a heightened ability to imagine odors, this may intensify the food craving experience through the creation of more vivid images of flavors and aromas

Participants were asked to complete a series of questionnaires wherein they were asked to imagine both visual and odour cues and then to subsequently rate the vividness of the cues. Based on the analysis of the answers, researchers were able to deduce that people with a higher body mass index (BMI) reported greater ability to vividly imagine food and non-food odours.

Dr. Barkha Patel, study lead author and Postdoctoral Fellow says that their findings indicate that there is a need to be more individualistic as far as identifying the factors behind weight gain of a person is concerned.

The findings will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, this week.