Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
Airs Weekdays 2:31, 3:31 and 5:49 a.m.

Can you tell skim, 2 percent, and whole milk apart without tasting?

You've heard of a sweet tooth.  Do we also have a fat tooth?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Humans seem to have evolved a deep-seated need to consume fat.  This likely goes back to hunter-gatherer days, when we had to stockpile calories for leaner times.  But now, scientists in the Netherlands have shown we have more than just a taste for fat.  We can actually smell it!

The team tested people in Philadelphia and the Netherlands.  They had them sniff milk and say whether samples were skim, two percent, or whole.  Subjects correctly assessed fat content around half the time.  That's higher than if they had just guessed.

The study also found people’s fat-smelling ability had nothing to do with their weight or dairy consumption.  Milk lovers had no advantage.

So is this why it’s so hard to diet?  We smell fat, we want fat?  The researchers didn’t weigh in there, but they do think understanding how we smell fat can help us control calories.

Sure, now I can say no to bacon when I smell it.  Not!

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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.