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Study Says Your Nose's Imagination Could Affect Your Weight

A new study suggests a higher obesity risk can be linked to a vivid imagination of the way foods smell.

By Evan Thomas | July 10, 2015

Those who can generate vivid mental imagery of foods based on smells could be at a higher risk of obesity, according to a new Yale study.

Researchers gave participants a series of questionnaires to determine how vividly they could imagine the sight, smell or idea of a food.

Their findings suggest the better people were able to imagine the smell of food, the higher their risk of food cravings and obesity.

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And the data showed the effect was stronger among participants with a higher BMI.

But the researchers aren’t sure which came first, higher BMI or the increased ability to imagine scents.

Earlier research has shown those with a higher BMI experience more frequent food cravings.

But the Yale study is the first to examine how much of a role our noses play.

According to the researchers, identifying such specific triggers for food cravings is an important step in developing effective weight loss behaviors.

They’re scheduled to present their findings this week at the annual meeting of the Society for Ingestive Behavior.

This video includes images from cookbookman17 / CC BY 2.0, Jens Tarning / CC BY 3.0, Marcus Michaels / CC BY 3.0, Edward Boatman / CC BY 3.0 and tommy chheng / CC BY 2.0.

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