The Aetiology of Olfactory Dysfunction and Its Relationship to Diet Quality

Richard J. Stevenson, Mehmet K. Mahmut, Annette Horstmann, Thomas Hummel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


People with olfactory loss may choose foods rich in sugar, salt and fat to compensate their loss—foods that constitute a Western-style diet (WSD). However, olfactory dysfunction has not been consistently linked to any particular type of dietary change. Here we considered whether the aetiology of olfactory dysfunction may affect consumption of a WSD. Two-hundred and twenty-two people with olfactory dysfunction of varying cause, were tested for chemosensory performance and their frequency of consumption of a WSD. There was no evidence of a link between a WSD and olfactory dysfunction at the aggregate level, but an aetiology-based approach revealed various patterns, showing both positive and negative associations between olfactory performance and consumption of a WSD. We suggest a number of reasons why, in certain cases, greater olfactory dysfunction may be linked to lower intakes of a WSD, and the role that different aetiologies may have in affecting choices for foods that may appeal following olfactory impairment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number769
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number11
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 515 Psychology
  • olfactory dysfunction
  • anosmia
  • aetiology
  • diet
  • Western-style diet
  • diet change
  • FAT

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