Olfactory function

Olfactory function

LASA filenames:

Contact: Kristien Fluitman


With increasing age olfactory function declines [1]. Olfactory function is, together with taste, important in food choice and intake, which might correlate with loss of weight [2]. Also in various neurodegenerative disorders, like Parkinson’s disease, the prevalence of olfactory loss is higher than in healthy aging people [3]. Moreover, an otherwise unexplained impairment of olfactory function is a risk factor for the development of Parkinson’s disease [4, 5].

Measurement instruments in LASA

To measure olfactory function, a Dutch version of the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT) [6] was used. The UPSIT-test consists of 40 different microencapsulated odors on paper cards, which are released by scratching the microcapsule. The 40 cards are divided over 4 booklets of 10 odors each. Participants are required to identify each odor by choosing from four forced-choice response options per card. Since the UPSITscore is gender dependent, the following olfactory function categories are used as provided by the test manufacturer: normosmic (34-40 for male and 35-40 for female), microsmic (19-33 for male and 19-34 for female) and anosmic (<19 for both male and female) [7]. Optimal discrimination criteria for various age groups and gender were established by Doty to aid in the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease [8]. For other neurodegenerative disorders these criteria are not (yet) available. Participants were also asked whether they had experienced any problems with taste or smell themselves and whether they smoked.


LAS3BS00, LAS3BS01, LAS3BS02, LASMBS00, LASMBS01, LASMBS02 (during the medical interview the test consisted of 4 booklets each containing 10 different smell-patches).

Variable information


Availability of information per wave


UPSIT / olfactory function


¹ More information about the LASA data collection waves is available here.

* 2B=baseline second cohort;
3B=baseline third cohort;
MB=migrants: baseline first cohort;
K=future wave 2021-2022

Ma=data collected in medical interview

Previous use in LASA

  • As a categorical variable based on the reported cut-off values for normosmia, hyposmia, and anosmia;
  • As a continuous variable (0-40) with a higher score corresponding to a better sense of smell.

Only participants who had completed all 40 items were included in the analyses, although sensitivity analysis was done by performing multiple imputation on missing UPSIT items and including all participants.

LASA publication with the UPSIT test: Fluitman, K.S., Nadar, H.J., Roos, D.S., Berendse, H.W., Keijser, B.J.F., Nieuwdorp, M., IJzerman, R.G., Visser, M. (2019). The Association of Olfactory Function with BMI, Appetite, and Prospective Weight Change in Dutch Community-Dwelling Older Adults. The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, 23, 8, 746-752.


  1. Attems, J., L. Walker, and K.A. Jellinger, Olfaction and Aging: A Mini-Review. Gerontology, 2015. 61(6): p. 485-90.
  2. Toussaint, N., et al., Loss of olfactory function and nutritional status in vital older adults and geriatric patients. Chem Senses, 2015. 40(3): p. 197-203.
  3. Doty, R.L., Olfactory dysfunction in Parkinson disease. Nat Rev Neurol, 2012. 8(6): p. 329-39.
  4. Ponsen, M.M., et al., Idiopathic hyposmia as a preclinical sign of Parkinson’s disease. Ann Neurol, 2004. 56(2): p. 173-81.
  5. Ross, G.W., et al., Association of olfactory dysfunction with risk for future Parkinson’s disease. Ann Neurol, 2008. 63(2): p. 167-73.
  6. Doty, R.L., P. Shaman, and M. Dann, Development of the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test: a standardized microencapsulated test of olfactory function. Physiol Behav, 1984. 32(3): p. 489-502.
  7. Doty RL. The smell identification test administration Manual. 3. Haddon Heights, NJ: Sensonics, Inc. 1995.
  8. Doty, R.L., S.M. Bromley, and M.B. Stern, Olfactory testing as an aid in the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease: development of optimal discrimination criteria. Neurodegeneration, 1995. 4(1): p. 93-7.

Date of last update: April 6, 2020