Taste and smell perception affect appetite and immunity in the elderly

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jun:54 Suppl 3:S54-63. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601026.


The losses in taste and smell that occur with advancing age can lead to poor appetite, inappropriate food choices, as well as decreased energy consumption. Decreased energy consumption can be associated with impaired protein and micronutrient status and may induce subclinical deficiencies that directly impact function. Most nutritional interventions in the elderly do not compensate for taste and smell losses and complaints. For example, cancer is a medical condition in which conventional nutritional interventions (that do not compensate for taste and smell losses) are ineffective. Evidence is now emerging that suggests compensation for taste and smell losses with flavor-enhanced food can improve palatability and/or intake, increase salivary flow and immunity, reduce chemosensory complaints in both healthy and sick elderly, and lessen the need for table salt.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Aging / psychology
  • Appetite* / drug effects
  • Energy Intake
  • Flavoring Agents / administration & dosage
  • Flavoring Agents / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Immunity* / drug effects
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / diet therapy
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Nutritional Status
  • Smell / drug effects
  • Smell / physiology*
  • Taste / drug effects
  • Taste / physiology*


  • Flavoring Agents