K.S. Fluitman, H.J. Nadar, D.S. Roos, H.W. Berendse, B.J.F. Keijser, M. Nieuwdorp, R.G.Ijzerman, M. Visser

J Nutr Health Aging (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12603-019-1241-7


A common phenomenon amongst older adults is a decline in appetite, which is thought to contribute to the occurrence of undernutrition. This decline in appetite is called: “Anorexia of Aging”. Many factors are thought to contribute to anorexia of aging, including a decrease in smell function as we become older. A deteriorating sense of smell is believed to diminish eating pleasure and change people’s food-related choices. This would then lead to lower food intake and ultimately undernutrition.
In this study, we evaluated whether sense of smell was associated with appetite, weight change and BMI. In other words: do people with poorer sense of smell also report poorer appetite, suffer more weight loss and have a lower BMI? In 2012-2013, we used a commercially available smell test (the 40-item UPSIT test) to assess sense of smell in 824 Dutch older adults, aged 55-65 years old. All these older adults were also enrolled in the larger LASA-study which studies the consequences of aging in the Netherlands. In addition to the results of the smell test, we made use of the self-reported appetite, weight, and BMI, as well as many other variables measured by LASA.
Ultimately, 673 participant had correctly filled out the UPSIT-test and were included in this study. No association between sense of smell and appetite or weight change could be found. However, there was an association between poorer sense of smell and lower BMI in older adults who smoke, but not in older adults who do not smoke.
This means that poor sense of smell in older adults who also smoke might be a vulnerable group when it comes to undernutrition.


You can also read the scientific article here.