Scent’s Effect on Calorie Consumption

Can the type of ambient scent influence how many calories you consume? Scientists say yes.

Temperature and Appetite

cool water Scientists know that ambient temperature influences appetite because the human body tries to maintain an optimal body temperature. The colder it gets, the more people expend energy through activities like shivering. To counteract the calories burned, they eat more food. They not only eat more, but they tend to eat more fatty, high-calorie foods to raise body temperature.

In warm temperatures, the process is reversed. People eat less when it’s hot because the digestive process produces heat.

Warm and Cool Scents

Think about scents like cinnamon, pumpkin and sandalwood. When you imagine smelling these fragrances, you probably associate them with a sense of warmth. That is why they are considered to be “warm scents.” Other fragrances, like peppermint, cucumber and watery smells induce a feeling of coolness and are classified as “cool scents.”

Scientists wondered if warm and cool scents had a similar effect on appetite and did some research to find out.

The Experiment

The experiment was done in the retail part of an optometrists’ office where they sold prescription glasses and sunglasses. Researchers diffused a warm scent (cedarwood) for two days and a cool scent (lavender) for two days. The temperature of the store was kept constant throughout the experiment and the outside temperature was similar across all four days of the experiment.

Researchers put a bowl of individually wrapped chocolates at the reception desk, which all customers had to approach,  and recorded how many of them each person ate on each day.

They discovered that the scent (whether cool or warm) had the same effect as the corresponding temperature. So when there was a cool scent in the room, people ate an average of twice as many calories than when there was a warm scent. In a separate experiment, the warm/cool scents had an opposite effect on beverage consumption. Since beverages cool the body, the warm scent led to increased beverage consumption and the cool scent to less.

How You Can Use This Information

If you own or manage a restaurant, you can increase food sales by using a cool ambient scent. Although you can get a similar effect by lowering the temperature, environmental scent is a more affordable and eco-friendly way of accomplishing the same goal. Using a pleasant scent has other benefits too, including increased time spent, better customer evaluations and improved customer satisfaction.

If you have a business with variable consumption of food like a buffet, warm scents will help you control your costs.

If your business sells primarily beverages like a cafe, smoothie or juice bar, diffusing a warm scent can increase sales.

In a healthcare setting and on personal level, warm scents can help you limit your appetite and cool scents can stimulate your appetite.

Contact your Air Esscentials rep to find out how you can leverage the power of scent to increase sales and control costs.