Fat people have a higher ability to smell food - Study finds

A study by Yale University showed a heightened ability to imagine odours was linked to food cravings and in turn to higher body weight.

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Scientists have found that the sense of smell is stronger and more vivid than fat people, something that could be responsible for their weight gain.

A study by Yale University showed a heightened ability to imagine odours was linked to food cravings and in turn to higher body weight.

The ability to vividly imagine the smell of popcorn, freshly baked biscuits and even non-food odours was found to be greater in obese adults.

According to the research group, most people can imagine the view of a favorite location or sing a song to themselves, but struggle to imagine smells associated with our favourite foods.

The researchers 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.

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 the cues.

It was found that people with a higher body mass index (BMI) reported greater ability to vividly imagine food and non-food odours.

According to study lead author Dr Barkha Patel, "these findings highlight the need for a more individualistic approach in identifying factors that may increase risk for weight gain."

Also, senior author Dr Dana Small, a Professor of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine in the US, called for "future work to assess imagery ability directly rather than relying upon self-report measures."

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