Alan Hirsch, MD, founder and neurologic director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, studied "tastants," substances that can stimulate the sense of taste. He asked 2,436 overweight or obese individuals to sprinkle a variety of savory or sweet crystals on their food before eating their meals during the 6-month study period.
Subjects put liberal applications of the salt-free savory flavors on salty foods and applied the sugar-free sweet crystals on sweet or neutral-tasting foods. They did not know what the flavors were other than salty or sweet. The hidden flavors of the savory tastants were cheddar cheese, onion, horseradish, ranch dressing, taco, or parmesan. Sweet flavors were cocoa, spearmint, banana, strawberry, raspberry, and malt.
A control group of 100 volunteers did not use tastants. Both groups were allowed to diet and exercise if they were already doing so. For both subjects and controls, Hirsch measured weight and body mass index (BMI)—a measure of height and weight—before and after the study.
At the start of the study, the treatment group had an average weight of 208 pounds and average BMI of 34, which is considered obese. After 6 months of using the crystals, the 1,436 subjects who completed the study lost an average of 30.5 pounds, compared with just 2 pounds for the untreated controls. Their BMI dropped by an average of 5, moving them from obesity to the overweight range. Controls had an average BMI decrease of 0.3.
Hirsch theorized that subjects lost more weight than controls did because the tastants made them feel full faster and therefore eat less. However, he did not track the amount of food the subjects ate. Another possibility, he said, is that the crystals improved the taste of bland but healthy foods, such as tofu and some vegetables, causing a change toward healthier eating habits. He said he believes this approach works because, unlike most diets, it is not based on food restriction.
Subjects lost an average of nearly 15 percent of their body weight, results showed. It is not clear whether the apparent weight loss benefits of the tastants would extend past 6 months or to people who weigh less than the obese subjects in this study.
"It could be that the percent of weight reduction would be lower in people who are less obese," Hirsch said. "In theory, tastants won't work for people who eat even when they're full and for people who have lost their sense of smell."
Hirsch said the tastants worked so well that they contributed to the dropout rate. Some of the subjects stopped the study before 6 months because they already had reached their ideal body weight—an unexpected result, he said.
Despite the tastant crystals not yet being commercially available, Hirsch said that people can use these techniques of enhancing their senses of smell and taste, to lose weight now. "Sniff your food before you eat it. Chew it a lot. Choose low-calorie foods and season them," he suggested.
Aaron Lohr | EurekAlert!
Some brain tumors may respond to immunotherapy, new study suggests
11.12.2018 | Columbia University Irving Medical Center
Climate change and air pollution damaging health and causing millions of premature deaths
30.11.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy