Insulin Resistance Is Associated with Reduced Food Odor Sensitivity across a Wide Range of Body Weights

Maria Poessel, Jessica Freiherr, Kathleen Wiencke, Arno Villringer, Annette Horstmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The worldwide obesity epidemic is a major health problem driven by the modern food environment. Recently, it has been shown that smell perception plays a key role in eating behavior and is altered in obesity. However, the underlying mechanisms of this phenomenon are not well understood yet. Since the olfactory system is closely linked to the endocrine system, we hypothesized that hormonal shifts in obesity might explain this relationship. In a within-subject, repeated-measures design, we investigated sensitivity to a food and a non-food odor in the hungry and sated state in 75 young healthy (26 normal weight, 25 overweight, and 24 obese) participants (37 women). To determine metabolic health status and hormonal reactivity in response to food intake, we assessed pre- and postprandial levels of insulin, leptin, glucose, and ghrelin. Odor sensitivity did not directly depend on body weight status/body mass index (BMI) or hunger state. However, we could establish a strong negative mediating effect of insulin resistance on the relationship between BMI/waist-hip ratio and olfactory sensitivity for the food odor. These findings indicate an impact of metabolic health status on sensitivity to food odors. Our results contribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms behind altered smell perception in obesity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2201
JournalNutrients
Volume12
Issue number8
Number of pages16
ISSN2072-6643
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 515 Psychology
  • 3111 Biomedicine
  • obesity
  • odor sensitivity
  • olfaction
  • HOMA-IR
  • insulin resistance
  • TEST-RETEST RELIABILITY
  • PHENYL ETHYL-ALCOHOL
  • OLFACTORY DETECTION
  • GHRELIN LEVELS
  • CUE EXPOSURE
  • MASS INDEX
  • PERFORMANCE
  • THRESHOLDS
  • SMELL
  • IDENTIFICATION

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