Objectives: To assess dietary behavior and possible changes in food selection in patients with smell loss.
Patients and methods: A total of 176 patients (114 women and 62 men) age 17 to 86 years were classified into three diagnostic groups (normosmia, n = 12; hyposmia, n = 75; functional anosmia, n = 89) according to their olfactory test scores obtained with "Sniffin' Sticks." Group differences in food intake and dietary behaviors were investigated with a specifically designed questionnaire providing a dietary alterations score (DAS).
Results: Numerous dietary changes were reported, e.g., 29% of all patients reported that they eat less since the onset of olfactory dysfunction, 39% use more spices with their food, 47% go out to eat at restaurants less frequently, 37% eat less sweets, and 48% drink less sweet beverages. Subjects with weight gain or weight loss scored higher on the DAS scale than subjects who did not report changes in weight. Similarly, DAS scale changes were more pronounced in subjects with a gradual onset of olfactory loss compared to subjects with a sudden loss of olfaction. Finally, a change of taste preferences toward savory and salty foods was observed across all patients enrolled in the present study.
Conclusions: Patients with olfactory loss report alterations of dietary behaviors. Numerous factors appear to impact the results of olfactory loss in terms of changes in diet.