Odor individuality partly results from genetic individuality, but the influence of ecological factors such as eating habits are another main source of odor variability. However, we know very little about how particular dietary components shape our body odor. Here we tested the effect of red meat consumption on body odor attractiveness. We used a balanced within-subject experimental design. Seventeen male odor donors were on “meat” or “nonmeat” diet for 2 weeks wearing axillary pads to collect body odor during the final 24 h of the diet. Fresh odor samples were assessed for their pleasantness, attractiveness, masculinity, and intensity by 30 women not using hormonal contraceptives. We repeated the same procedure a month later with the same odor donors, each on the opposite diet than before. Results of repeated measures analysis of variance showed that the odor of donors when on the nonmeat diet was judged as significantly more attractive, more pleasant, and less intense. This suggests that red meat consumption has a negative impact on perceived body odor hedonicity.
First posted: SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2008