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TUESDAY, July 7, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Your ability to imagine smells could affect your weight, researchers report.
While everyone can imagine something such as a view from a favorite spot, the same is not true of odors, the researchers said. There is wide variation in people's ability to imagine the smell of pleasant things such as freshly baked bread or cookies, popcorn or a bouquet of roses, they explained.
It's possible that the ability to imagine food odors might trigger food cravings, they added.
For the new study, researchers asked participants to imagine different types of food and non-food odors. They found that those with a higher body mass index (BMI -- an estimate of body fat based on weight and height) were better at imagining smells.
The study was to be presented Tuesday at the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior's annual meeting in Denver. Findings presented at meetings are generally viewed as preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
"These findings highlight the need for a more individualistic approach in identifying factors that may increase risk for weight gain," lead author Barkha Patel, a postdoctoral fellow in neuropsychology and physiology of flavor and feeding at the John B. Pierce Laboratory in New Haven, Conn., said in a society news release.
Previous research has found that obese people are more likely to have food cravings, but this is the first study to examine a possible link between the ability to imagine odors and food cravings, the researchers said.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, news release, July 7, 2015