Dutch research: Smell of food can control portion size

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 22nd March 2012

New research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal, Flavour, suggests that strong food aromas lead to smaller bite sizes and that aroma may be used as a means to control portion size.

The research study, undertaken at Wageningen University, in the Netherlands, Netherlands developed a system where a custard-like dessert was eaten while different scents were simultaneously presented directly to the participant’s nose, in order to separate the effect of aroma on bite size from other food-related sensations

The study found that the aroma experience of food is linked to its constituents and texture, but also to bite size. Smaller bites sizes were linked towards a lower flavour release which, according to the researchers, may explain why we take smaller bites of unfamiliar or disliked foods.

Dr Rene A de Wijk, who led the study said, “Our human test subjects were able to control how much dessert was fed to them by pushing a button. Bite size was associated with the aroma presented for that bite and also for subsequent bites (especially for the second to last bite).
“Perhaps, in keeping with the idea that smaller bites are associated with lower flavour sensations from the food and that, there is an unconscious feedback loop using bite size to regulate the amount of flavour experienced.”

She said that the study’s results suggest that manipulating the odour of food could result in a 5-10 per cent decrease in intake per bite. “Combining aroma control with portion control could fool the body into thinking it was full with a smaller amount of food and aid weight loss,” Dr A de Wijk said.