Changes in perception and liking for everyday food odors among older adults

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The age-related decline in olfactory function is well established and concerns intensity perception and odor identification. However, the extent to which olfactory decline influences food preferences is less clear. Furthermore, it is unclear whether there are decline patterns relating to food odors, specifically. This study investigated intensity perception and hedonic liking for 14 multi-component food odors and one pure odorant in three groups of older adults (age 60–69, age 70–70, age 80 + ) and a group of young adults. In total 335 subjects were tested, 246 old and very old adults and 89 young adults. The age group 60–69 was on par with the young adults, whereas intensity perception declined for the majority of odors for older adults age 70–79 and the very old age 80 +. The largest drop in intensity perception was seen for savory odors; fried meat, mushroom and onion. In contrast, intensity perception for raspberry and orange did not differ between groups of older adults and young adults. Hedonic liking decreased to some degree with increasing age but remained largely the same for savory odors (bacon, mushroom, fried meat and onion). A decline in liking was seen for coffee and thyme. This study shows evidence that age-related decline in intensity perception is food odor specific and some aggregation may occur at a higher concept level for the “savory” category. Furthermore, hedonic liking is not necessarily dependent on the intensity perception as seen for several odors, where declining intensity perception did not impact hedonic liking. This could be explained by changes in dose-response relationships for the group of ageing individuals, which in fact may favor persistence of the food odor liking, despite a decline in their intensity perception.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104254
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • Ageing, Food odors, Hedonic response, Intensity perception, Olfaction

ID: 272576593