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Crave a Fatty Food? Smell It Instead!

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cookies and chocolate chunks

The scent of freshly baked cookies, fried foods or pizza straight out of the oven are just some scents that might trigger a craving. However, the scent of these fatty foods might be the secret to satisfying the craving.   

In a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, Dipayan Biswas, Ph.D., a marketing professor at the University of South Florida College of Business, examined if the ambient scent of fatty foods can satisfy the craving for them. To test the influence of ambient scents, he conducted a series of tests using a nebulizer that gave off the scent of a healthy and an unhealthy food (cookies vs. strawberries and pizza vs. apples). In the test, both scents were emitted, but participants were exposed to the scents at different durations.

Related: Too Stressed to Sense: Modern Life and Our Sense of Taste and Smell

Upon the conclusion of the experiment, he found that participants exposed to the smell of cookies for less than 30 seconds were more likely to want a cookie. However, participants exposed to the scent of cookies for longer than two minutes picked strawberries instead. Similar results were seen when it came to the scent of pizza and apples.  

"Ambient scent can be a powerful tool to resist cravings for indulgent foods," said Biswas. "In fact, subtle sensory stimuli like scents can be more effective in influencing children's and adults' food choices than restrictive policies."

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