Cognitive, Olfactory, and Affective Determinants of Body Weight in Aging Individuals

Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2019 Jul 26;34(5):637-647. doi: 10.1093/arclin/acy072.


Objective: A complex interplay of factors including cognitive, sensory and affective aspects has been associated in a controversial way with anthropometric measures related to body weight.

Methods: Here we propose two studies to investigate whether and how cognitive, olfactory and affective variables resulted associated with body weight during healthy aging. In Study 1, we investigated the cognitive status, the odor identification skills, and the BMI of 209 individuals (50-96 yo). In Study 2 an extensive evaluation of cognitive functions (in particular executive functions and memory), odor threshold, discrimination and identification and affective skills (i.e., depression and anxiety) was performed in a group of 35 healthy, free-living aging individuals (58-85 yo).

Results: In Study 1, greater BMI was not associated with performance on the odor identification task but was significantly associated with better cognitive skills. In Study 2, we observed that executive functions seemed to favor a successful managing of body weight, and individuals with greater BMI and waist circumference showed significantly better odor discrimination skills. Finally, lower waist circumference (but not BMI) was found significantly associated with greater levels of anxiety.

Conclusions: These results confirm that cognitive, olfactory and affective factors may influence body weight during healthy aging.

Keywords: Anxiety; Body weight; Cognitive functions; Depression; Olfaction.

MeSH terms

  • Affect / physiology*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology
  • Executive Function / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Olfactory Perception / physiology*
  • Smell / physiology*