The aroma of foods could become a new weapon in the battle of the bulge by quenching hunger pangs.

A real possibility does exist for developing a new generation of foods that make people feel full by releasing anti-hunger aromas during chewing, according to Dutch scientists.

Such foods would fight the global epidemic of obesity with aromas that quench hunger and prevent people from overeating.

Rianne Ruijschop of the Dutch based NIZO organisation and colleagues note that scientists have long tried to develop tasty foods that trigger or boost the feeling of fullness. Until recently, that research focused on food's effects in stomach after people swallow it.

Their analysis found that aroma release during chewing does contribute to the feeling of fullness and possibly to consumers' decisions to stop eating.

The report cites several possible applications, including developing foods that release more aroma during chewing or developing aromas that have a more powerful effect in triggering feelings of fullness.

Efforts now have expanded to include foods that release hunger-quenching aromas during chewing. Molecules that make up a food's aroma apparently do so by activating areas of the brain that signal fullness, says a release of the American Chemcial Society (ACS).

The study appeared in the ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.