Junus Tahitu

ScienceShot: Strong Smells = Small Bites

"There's always room for Jell-O," went a famous ad campaign. But would there be as much room if you smelled the Jell-O first? Researchers hooked 10 adult study participants up to a device that allowed them to control, via a button, the amount of vanilla pudding squirted into their mouths through a tube. The people—who were prescreened to like the taste of vanilla pudding but didn't know what the experiment was testing—also had a tube that delivered pudding-like smells to their noses (as seen above). When the researchers increased the intensity of the smell, the participants took mouthfuls of pudding that were 5% to 10% smaller. (The team didn't measure total food consumption.) Bite size has previously been linked to how full a person is, how much they like a food, and salt content of a meal. In addition, smaller bite sizes can decrease the overall amount someone eats. Understanding how a person subconsciously decides how big a bite to take, or how many bites, could help scientists develop foods that encourage smaller meal portions, according to the team, which reports its results today in Flavour. Whether the findings hold true when someone is eating with a spoon, which offers a set bite size, is yet to be seen.

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