"We have just begun to study the role of smell in the work of appetite, the amount of food eaten and body weight. On the other hand, we all know very well that pleasant or unpleasant odors can increase or decrease our appetite," said Dror Diker (Dror Dicker from Hasharon Hospital in Petah Tikva (Israel).
According to him, experiments have shown that if a person does not smell, this deprives him of his cravings for sweets.
According to the WHO, since the 1980s, there has been a global obesity epidemic in the world. Last year, every third inhabitant of the Earth, a total of 1.9 billion people, suffered from excess weight, with about 15% from severe obesity. According to the organization, 47 percent of diseases - for example, heart problems, diabetes and cancer - are associated with obesity.
In recent years, scientists have increasingly begun to talk about the relationship between obesity and chronic inflammation. The appearance of extra pounds leads to the development of foci of inflammation in the body, which, in turn, contributes to an even greater gain in body weight.
What's more, biologists recently discovered that inflammation-suppressing substances such as capsaicin, the main component of the hot taste of pepper, have proven to be effective drugs for obesity. Many of these molecules are currently undergoing clinical and preclinical trials.
Dicker and his colleagues offer an easier solution for obesity problems. Analyzing the prevalence of obesity among different population groups, scientists drew attention to the fact that people aged 50 and older are much less likely to suffer from obesity than representatives of the age group under 50, despite a similar diet and lifestyle.
Having studied the possible reasons for this, Israeli doctors noticed that around this age, a person's sense of smell begins to gradually deteriorate, which can affect how appetizing an additional portion of food seems to him.
They tested this idea by making some kind of silicone plugs that allowed air to pass through but prevented odors from entering the wearer's nose. They tested their work on a group of six dozen volunteers, half of whom received fake nasal drops that supposedly helped them lose weight.
Before starting the experiment, the scientists measured the usual amount of food that their wards ate, and asked them to reduce the daily calorie total by about 500 units. Every few weeks, the researchers collected volunteers and measured the level of fats, insulin and other important molecules in their blood and noted the progress towards losing weight.
As these observations showed, such plugs really helped the subjects lose weight and change their diet - on average, their weight decreased by eight percent over several months of the experiment, which is about twice as much as in the control group. Similarly, the concentration of insulin in the blood, blood pressure and sugar cravings decreased.
Such devices for the nose, as noted by Dicker and his colleagues, are absolutely safe for human health and they will be available to the first customers in the next few months. The prototype of the device and the first results of the tests were presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna.