The Washington Post

The old person smell, in one chart

An international team of researchers have found proof of a phenomena known to scores of grandchildren: Old people do, in fact, smell different.

The study authors sampled body odors from three age groups: young (20-30), middle-aged (45-55) and elderly (75-95). They found that study participants could distinguish between odors emitted by individuals of a different age more so than would be predicted by chance. “The results of this study support the cross-culturally popular concept of an ‘old person odor,’” the paper, published in the online journal PLoSOne, concluded.

But different, as we all learned in elementary school, doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Old people actually smell really good, it turns out, especially when you compare them to younger counterparts. Here’s how three age groups - young (20-30), middle-aged (45-50) and old (75-95) - stacked up when rated on “pleasantness” of smell:

On average, the elderly actually smell better than all of the rest of us. Middle-aged men come in dead last in the smell test, with the worst ratings on both “pleasantness” and “intensity” of smell.


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