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Diet and odor hedonic ratings: comparative study between vegetarians, flexitarians, and omnivores

, Laurence Jacquot, Gérard Brand
Published: 17 November 2022

Abstract: Objectives: Odor hedonic perception is well known to exhibit great variability and to depend on several parameters, i.e. stimulus, context, and subject characteristics. As hedonic perception (pleasant/unpleasant character) of food odors is considered one of the most prominent dimensions in eating behavior, the question of hedonic variability in this context arises. Thus, the aim of the present study was to compare odor hedonic ratings in three populations with regard to diet (i.e. omnivore, vegetarian, and flexitarian diets). Methods: Four categories of odors were compared: meat, vegetable, other food, and non-food odors. Results: The results showed that vegetarian and flexitarian individuals rated meat odors as more unpleasant than omnivores, while no significant difference was found for other categories of odors. Discussion: The question of whether the diet influences the hedonic perception or/and inversely is discussed, regarding several aspects of food consumption such as eating disorders, food education, … and could further serve to manage eating behaviors. Practical applications: This study evidenced that vegetarians and flexitarians specifically rated meat odors as being more unpleasant than those of omnivores. Because of the growing number of vegetarians and flexitarians in the general population, it could be suggested to take into account the odor hedonic perception (especially regarding food odors) in studies related to diets. Besides, the present results could further serve research in several aspects of food consumption such as eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia … etc.) or food education as well as the management of eating behaviors, especially in an elderly population.
Keywords: Odor / Hedonic rating / Pleasantness / Odor intensity‌ / Diet / Vegetarian / Flexitarian / Omnivore

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