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Protocol Details

Mechanisms Underlying Individual Variations of Taste and Smell in Obesity

This study is currently recruiting participants.

Summary | Eligibility | Citations | Contacts




Sponsoring Institute

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Recruitment Detail

Type: Participants currently recruited/enrolled
Gender: Male & Female
Min Age: 18 Years
Max Age: 65 Years

Referral Letter Required


Population Exclusion(s)



Natural History

Recruitment Keyword(s)




Investigational Drug(s)


Investigational Device(s)




Supporting Site

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism


Changes to the sense of taste or smell can change eating behavior. This may contribute to obesity. Researchers want to see how taste and smell perceptions that affect food choices may differ between people with obesity and without obesity.


To understand the role that senses of taste and smell play in food intake.


Adults ages 18-65 with obesity and without obesity


Participants will be screened with a medical history and physical exam. They will have a neurological and sensory exam. They will give blood and urine samples. They will be checked for previous SARS-CoV-2 infection. They will complete questionnaires about their eating habits, alcohol use, and smoking history.

Participants will have 2 study visits.

Participants will give stool, urine, blood, hair, nasal, and saliva samples. These samples will be used for gene testing.

Participants will have their weight, height, and hip and waist circumference measured. They will have an imaging scan that measures body composition.

Participants will complete questionnaires about their health, eating habits, and food preferences.

Participants will have taste tests and smell tests. They will have sensory tests to assess their response to stimuli.

Participants will have a dietary assessment. They will complete a food diary and a diet history questionnaire.

Participants will get a meal to eat. Data will be collected about their experience.

Participants will complete a sleep diary and wear a watch to measure their activity.

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In order to be eligible to participate in this study, an individual must meet all of the following criteria:

- Males and females between 18 to 65 years of age. Due to documented knowledge that taste and smell changes with age, we will limit the cohort within this age range.

- BMI between 18.5 and 29.9 kg/m^2 for healthy controls or between 30 and 39.9 kg/m^2 for obese subjects

- Fasted plasma glucose levels between 68-126 mg/dl or per Clinical Center ranges, and hemoglobin A1C<6.5%

- Able to provide his/her own consent

- Able to understand the protocol, as shown by scoring a 6 out of 6 on a consent quiz


An individual who meets any of the following criteria will be excluded from participation in this study:

- Because type-2 diabetic subjects have blunted taste responses, subjects with diagnosis of type II diabetes will be excluded.

- Hypoglycemic drug intake.

- Weight change of more than 15 pounds in the 6 months prior to screening

- Positive pregnancy test, currently pregnant or breastfeeding.

- Currently using any of the following medications: steroidal or nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medications, medications known to inhibit taste response (GLP1 agonists), antiepileptic or antidepressant agents, glucocorticoids, or antibiotics.

- Received a diagnosis by a medical professional of morbid obesity, liver or renal disease.

- Individuals with current heavy drinking. Women who drink 4 drinks or more in one occasion and 7 drinks in a week. Men who drink 5 drinks or more in one occasion and more than 14 drinks a week.

- Use of tobacco products or illicit drugs (as determined by urine drug screen and/or history/physical exam) in the last 30 days.

- Currently have an uncontrolled medical disorder (i.e., gastrointestinal, endocrine, cardiac, psychiatric).

- Any self-reported history of chronic rhinitis, eating disorder (including binge eating), chronic upper respiratory infection, chronic allergic rhinitis, or nasal polyps in the last 6 months of screening, or current daily use of nasal sprays.

- Abnormal complete blood count (CBC): White Blood Cell Count < 4 or > 10 K/uL, Red Blood Cell Count < 4 or > 7 M/uL, Hemoglobin < 12 g/dL for females or < 13 g/dL for males or any clinical signs/symptoms that indicate iron deficiency anemia per clinician s judgment at screening [National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) definition (Anemia - Iron-Deficiency Anemia, Diagnosis NHLBI, NIH)].

- Bariatric surgery within the last 12 months of screening.

- History of cancer (e.g., head and neck cancer) and/or history of cancer treatment (e.g., radiotherapy to the head and neck area or chemotherapy).

- Altered cranial nerves identified by neurological evaluation during physical exam (screening visit).

- Currently experiencing temporary change/loss of taste and/or smell.

- Persistent loss of taste and/or smell due to COVID-19 or other reasons.

- Unable to read and understand English. Since all self-report measures are in English only, participants need to be able to read and understand the English language.

- NIAAA employees/staff or subordinates/relatives/co-workers of NIAAA employees/staff or study investigators.

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Not Provided

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Principal Investigator

Referral Contact

For more information:

Paule V. Joseph, C.R.N.P.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Khushbu Agarwal, Ph.D.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
National Institutes of Health
Building 60
Room 256
60 Cloister Court
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
(240) 731-4870

Office of Patient Recruitment
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)
Building 61, 10 Cloister Court
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
Toll Free: 1-800-411-1222
Local Phone: 301-451-4383
TTY: TTY Users Dial 7-1-1

Clinical Trials Number:


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