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Does Weight Impact Smell?


During the Covid pandemic we have heard lots about the sensations of taste and smell.    For those that contracted the virus, you may have experienced either for a short period of time or longer, the loss of either/both of these sensations.  These were quite annoying symptoms as the joy involved in eating requires the taste and smell sensations to be intact.

Let’s put the Covid virus aside and focus on whether the smell sensation is impacted by poor weight control.  First, a bit about smell:  Your ability to smell comes from specialized sensory cells, called olfactory sensory neurons, which are found in a small patch of tissue high inside the nose. These cells connect directly to the brain. Each olfactory neuron has one odor receptor.

A study from New Zealand published in the journal Obesity Reviews several years ago looked at 1500 patients and there was a clear association of poor weight control with diminished smell.  There was a direct correlation: the lower the BMI, the better the smell capability.  

Smell plays a critical role when it comes to eating behavior because it affects the way we identify and choose between different flavors. A poor sense of smell may result in people making unhealthful food choices, which can increase their risk of obesity/further weight control problems.

There are times when we all wish that our sensation of smell was not all that good (for those of you that have ever wandered into a gas station bathroom with that crazy big key you know what I mean).  However, being able to smell the spring flowers, the new car smell or that fragrance on our loved one makes our lives much better.  Although this benefit of weight control is not as medically important as diabetes/stroke/heart disease/cancer prevention, preserving our smell is a great additional positive impact on our bodies.

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