odor has been a subject of interest since olden times. The attention body odor
still gets is fascinating especially when an intriguing study titled
'The Smell of Age: Perception and Discrimination of Body
Odors of Different Ages' by Dr. Johan Lundström
and colleagues, Monell University, Philadelphia, shows that the smell of older people is
'less intense and less unpleasant than
body odors originating from Young and Middle-age donors'.
Dr. Lundström shares more details of his study with Medindia.
Q.In the study conducted, did the weight
of the person have any impact on body odor?
No, subject groups
were matched for general health, which included the BMI. It was not clear in
the paper since it fell within the general screening category. However, it is
something we routinely do.
temperatures, people who weigh more tend to sweat more, would the amount of
sweat secretion change the impression of body odor?
Yes, the more you
sweat the more body odor you tend to emit. Also, if a person is obese and has
skin flaps, body odor accumulates under the 'flaps' and becomes a breeding
ground for bacteria.
the selection criteria for participants of the study who were asked to evaluate
The general health
requirements are described in the article. A state of good general health, good
olfactory senses, no history of head injury and non-smokers were our selection
criteria. Fifty percent of our subjects were students from UPENN or DREXEL
University and the other fifty percent were representatives of the local
population, which is predominantly African-American. We did not add race or
ethnicity as part of our criteria because that would have been too many
study, what kind of diet was prescribed? Did you experiment with the diet to
see how that might affect body odor?
Volunteers were asked
to refrain from eating spicy food and foods that we know would affect a
person's body odor such as garlic, asparagus, certain spices and of course food
average day, people use perfumes, talc, deodorants, how do you think that would
alter the results of your current study on body odor?
We have data (yet to be published) demonstrating that the chemosignals
are not affected by deodorants and perfumes,
however an antiperspirant might. In this case, allowing people to use perfume
of their choice would have biased the data since these tend to be age-dependent
Q.Why were sexual preferences a factor?
Previous studies (see studies by Dr. Charles Wysocki and Dr. Ivanka Savic) have
demonstrated that sexual preference does affect not only odor preference but a
person's body odor itself.
Q.Three age groups were selected, all of them were adults,
if the comparison should be between body odor of old people to that of infants
(most of them have lactic smell) how would the results fare?
I believe that the discrimination performance would be even greater since
infants tend to have a very characteristic odor.
conducted by Dr Johan Lundström does make interesting reading and can be