A high-fat diet is linked to major structural and functional changes in the olfactory system, which gives us our sense of smell, according to a new study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, and led by Florida State University post-doctoral researcher Nicolas Thiebaud.
It is the first time researchers have been able to demonstrate a solid link between a bad diet and a loss of smell.
The research was conducted over a six-month period where mice were given a high-fat daily diet, while also being taught to associate between a particular odor and a reward (water).
Mice only had 50 percent of the neurons that could operate to encode odor signals than the control population and when researchers introduced a new odor to monitor their adjustment, mice could not rapidly adapt, demonstrating reduced smell capabilities.
Even when placed on a diet which returned them to normal body weight, mice still had a reduced sense of smell.
According to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than two in three adults in the US are considered to be overweight or obese, and about one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19.