Sense of Smell Triggers Appetite

elderly woman eating
senior woman eating her lunch at home

We know that sensory food cues such as odours trigger memories, and this knowledge helps to understand the effect of food odours on behavioural responses.

Food odour exposure has been shown in studies to enhance appetite for food products with similar properties: sensory-specific appetite.

Being surrounded by sensory food cues, such as odours, that may trigger both conscious and unconscious decisions, including either overeating or undereating.

Reaction to these cues would suggest that previous experience with foods has allowed us to detect, through sense of smell, the nutritional content of foods.

The research indicates that exposure to food odours may mostly influence appetite, but does not impact subsequent food intake. Moreover, a person’s appetite seems to be triggered by taste qualities rather than macronutrient (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) information of the food, as signalled by olfactory cues.

An indication that using the resident's sense of smell, is another tool that can be used to improve food intake in the elderly and assist in combating malnutrition in aged care settings.