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Is Your Nose to Blame for Weight Gain?

Could your sense of smell be stopping you from losing weight? It might sounds crazy, but your nose might actually play a big role in how heavy or how slim you are, according to a new study. And after you hear it, you may never look at the smell of freshly baked cookies the same way.

The study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, showed that mice that lost their sense of smell didn’t gain weight even when they ate the same high-fat diet as mice that could smell and did gain weight. The really interesting part is that the mice that could smell packed on the pounds so much on the high-fat diet that they were twice their original weight. In a sharp contrast, the ones that couldn’t smell didn’t gain at all.

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On top of that, there was also a group of mice whose sense of smell was enhance even further. And these “super-smellers” gained even more weight in the study than those with a normal sense of smell. Sounds like us when we get an extra huge whiff of chocolate chip goodies out of the oven!

Senior study author Andrew Dillin said, “Sensory systems play a role in metabolism. Weight gain isn’t purely a measure of the calories taken in; it’s also related to how those calories are perceived.”

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the same would hold true for humans. However, the findings certainly raise questions about that. And researchers are hoping further work on this topic could benefit overweight and obese patients struggling with weight-related health issues.

Dillin said that if it turns out humans have a similar response as the mice did, it could give patients who are considering bariatric surgery a new option.

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“For that small group of people, you could wipe out their smell for maybe six months and then let the olfactory neurons grow back, after they’ve got their metabolic program rewired,” he suggested.

Wow! We’ll definitely have to stay tuned to hear more.


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