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Influence of Olfactory Function on Appetite and Nutritional Status in the Elderly Requiring Nursing Care

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To investigate olfactory function in elderly subjects requiring nursing care to clarify its association with appetite and nutritional status.


Facility for the elderly requiring nursing care. Participants: The subjects were 158 elderly people requiring nursing care and 37 elderly people not requiring nursing care.


Experiment I: Olfactory function and factors (cognitive function, appetite, and nutritional status) that may be associated with it were compared between the elderly subjects requiring nursing care and those not requiring nursing care using covariance analysis in consideration of age. For evaluation, the OSIT-J was used for olfactory function, the HDS-R for cognitive function, the CNAQ for appetite, and BMI for nutritional status. Experiment II: The subjects were the same elderly subjects requiring nursing care in Experiment I, and food intake was surveyed in addition to the OSIT-J, HDS-R, CNAQ, and BMI. A univariate linear regression analysis was performed with OSIT-J as the response variable, and age, HDS-R, CNAQ, BMI, and food intake as the explanatory variables.


Experiment I: On covariance analysis, the OSIT-J score was significantly lower for the elderly subjects requiring nursing care than for those not requiring nursing care (p<0.01). The mean score was 8 or lower in both groups, demonstrating lower olfactory function in both groups. Regarding factors that may be associated with olfactory function, a significant difference was noted in the HDS-R (p<0.01), confirming significantly lower cognitive function in the elderly subjects requiring nursing care. No significant difference was noted in the CNAQ or BMI. Experiment II: On a univariate linear regression analysis, an association with the OSIT-J was noted for age and HDS-R. Age was inversely correlated and the HDS-R was positively correlated. Factors associated with lower olfactory function in the elderly subjects requiring nursing were age and cognitive function, whereas appetite, nutritional status, and food intake were not associated.


Olfactory function in elderly subjects requiring nursing care was poorer than that in those not requiring nursing care, suggesting that aging and cognitive decline are associated with lower olfactory function. In addition, no association of lower olfactory function with appetite, nutritional status, or food intake was noted in the elderly subjects requiring nursing care.

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This study was supported by a grant from JSPS KAKENHI (No. JP18K09876, Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research C).

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Correspondence to Kanji Nohara.

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This study was performed after approval by the ethics committees of the School & Graduate School of Dentistry, Osaka University, and Osaka University Dental Hospital (approval number: H29-E24-1).

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The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this manuscript.

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Arikawa, E., Kaneko, N., Nohara, K. et al. Influence of Olfactory Function on Appetite and Nutritional Status in the Elderly Requiring Nursing Care. J Nutr Health Aging (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12603-020-1334-3

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Key words

  • Olfactory function
  • appetite
  • nutritional status
  • elderly requiring nursing care