Monday, 15 November 2010

Smell the Glove

Fatter people may eat more because they smell food more intensely trumpets The Telegraph:

  • Researchers have discovered that the heavier that someone is the more sensitive they are to the smell of food. They believe that this might make the food more appetising to them and so encourage them to eat more. Dr Lorenzo Stafford, of the University of Portsmouth's Department of Psychology, said that there was a definite correlation but as yet he did not know why.
So there you go - being fat makes you more sensitive to smell!  However if you don't buy in to the idea that the obese are fat because they eat more, but that they eat more because they are fat, then unlike Dr Lorenzo Stafford, you can answer why (and probably get the right answer).

When I suggest that 'the obese eat more because they are fat', I am intimating that there is a problem with hormonal regulation (centred around insulin), and thus the obese are in a state of chronic 'energy storage'.  The body, unable to access the expected calorific content of the food imbibed (as it is being sequestered for storage), is running with a shortage of available energy.

What to do in this state?  Well, if the body cannot get enough calories to satisfy its energy demands, it will fire as many available 'drivers' as possible to compel an individual to eat.  This might well include an enhanced sense of smell.  I don't know for sure but I would guess that increased sensitivity to the smell of food is an evolutionary adaption to help us seek out fugitive calories.

Once your brain makes the association between the smell of apples or oranges, and the calorie content of that fruit, then in future you don't need to see those fruit to obtain those calories.  The next summer, a breeze can betray the location of food-bounty well beyond your line of sight.

So there you go.  If my assumption above is indeed true, getting fatter does not make you more sensitive to smell.  Hunger makes you more sensitive to smell - as it does with everbody, fat or thin.  And the fat are hungry because hormonal imbalance is limiting the amount of imbibed calories available to their body's metabolism.

Now shoot me down!


Evolutionary Diet said...

Makes scents to me.

Evolutionary Diet said...

Actually, I suspect that the impetus is not just a shortage of calories, but a shortage of any essential nutrients, including calories, but also including a possible deficiency of protein, vitamins, minerals, other micronutrients, even water.

Methuselah said...

I think your hypothesis is an excellent one. Nevertheless, I recommend further research, funded by a prominent drug company, into whether there are drugs we can develop for fat people that will prevent them being able to smell anything.

Asclepius said...

Evolutionary Diet - lol!

Meth -yep, I am already patenting Smell-away (a clothes peg-like device that sits on the nose). No doubt others will recommend a nose-ectomy: