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Could the aroma of food fight obesity?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Scientists report that the aroma of food could help fight the increasing prevalence of obesity. Until now researchers have focused on foods that boost feelings of fullness. A team of researchers from the Netherlands now focuses on food that releases aromas during chewing that can satisfy hunger.

he new generations of foods contain molecules that would tell the brain when we are full, rather than the stomach. The scientists believe targeting the brain could help fight obesity by preventing overeating.

Rianne Ruijschop and colleagues are exploring the notion that developing foods with aromas that satisfy hunger might help fight obesity, following a review of research on the topic.

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Their analysis showed that aromas released during chewing can curb hunger. The focus of the analysis was on the olfactory senses. According to the authors, aromas that reach the back of the nose may be related to individual sense of food satisfaction, and varies from person to person.

The researchers plan on developing foods that release aromas during chewing in the hopes that consumers can stop eating so much. When studying the effects of food and overeating, the researchers noted that aromas that stimulate the senses lead to increased feelings of food satisfaction, also supporting the notion that food aromas could help fight obesity by curbing hunger.

Suggested applications include encapsulating food to provide lingering aftertastes and food aromas, as well as foods that require more chewing, a novel approach that the scientists believe should help curb obesity by telling the brain to stop eating.

The study authors write, "The next challenge is to implement these concepts into real food products." Foods that provide lingering aromas and aftertaste could help consumers feel satisfied with less food, helping in the fight against obesity, that the authors say is "promising and appealing".

J. Agric. Food Chem., 2009, 57 (21), pp 9888–9894
DOI: 10.1021/jf901445z