Study leader Dr. Rene de Wijk of Wageningen University in the Netherlands said bite size depends on the familiarly and texture of food -- smaller bite sizes are taken for foods that need more chewing, and are often linked to a sensation of feeling fuller sooner, Wijk said.
The researchers separated the effect of aroma on bite size from sensations associated with other foods. They used a custard-like dessert that was modified to give off a variety of scents to participants' noses.
The results showed the stronger the smell, the smaller the bite.
"Our human test subjects were able to control how much dessert was fed to them by pushing a button. Bite size was associated with the aroma presented for that bite and also for subsequent bites -- especially for the second to last bite," de Wijk said in a statement.
The finding suggests manipulating food aroma could result in a 5 percent to 10 percent decrease in food intake per bite, and combining aroma control with portion control could fool the body into thinking it was full with a smaller amount of food -- and aid weight loss -- de Wijk said.
The study was published in the journal Flavour.
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