Your nose might be sabotaging your weight loss efforts.

New research has revealed that simply smelling food can make you pack on the pounds. Yikes!

The study, conducted by UC Berkeley researchers and published in Cell Metabolism, used three groups of mice — a set of “super-smellers,” a group whose smell was temporarily disabled, and a control group. The mice ate the same amount of a “Burger King diet.”

When the mice weighed in at the end of the study, those with the impaired sense of smell gained the least weight — a mere 10 percent of their body weight, while the “super smellers” gained the most weight — nearly doubling in size.

The findings show that your olfactory system affects your appetite as well as your metabolism.

The normal mice, of course, ballooned in size too.

“In the context of food and appetite, this is really novel,” lead study author Celine Riera told SF Gate. However, Riera warns against the risks of proceeding down this road for weight loss in humans. “People that don’t have a sense of smell can get depressed, because the sense of smell is very important for behavior,” Riera said. “They lose all pleasure of eating.”

To use this method in humans, scientist will have to know how many olfactory neurons to destroy and how often to revisit this procedure to keep it effective, researcher Andrew Dillin said.

Further research is needed before this could be considered an option in humans, but it does show the power our sense of smell has over what we consume.


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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.