Blog | Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Endo 08: Weight loss fairy dust

In the future, you'll be able to sprinkle a magical powder on your food that will help you lose weight.

Scratch that. The future is now, and this magical formula is already available for the low low price of $210, thanks to Alan Hirsch, MD, neurologic director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. Dr. Hirsch presented the results of a study testing his magical weight-loss powder during a press conference here.

He says his study found that (surprise!) overweight and obese folks who flavored their food with calorie-free seasonings and sweeteners called "tastants" were more successful at losing weight than those who didn't use the tastants.

The 2,436 subjects put salt-free savory flavors on salty food and sugar-free sweet crystals on sweet or neutral foods. The"salty" flavors were cheddar cheese, onion, horseradish, ranch dressing, parmesan or taco, while the "sweet" flavors were cocoa, spearmint, banana, strawberry or malt. A control group of 100 didn't use tastants, and both groups were allowed to diet and exercise if they were already doing so.

After 6 months, the 1,436 subjects who finished the study lost an average of 31 pounds, vs. the average of 2 pounds lost by the control group. The BMI reductions were five vs. 0.3, respectively. Dr. Hirsch said he thinks tastants make people feel full faster and thus eat less and/or that the crystals make bland healthy food, like tofu and certain veggies, taste better-- which makes it easier to stick to healthy eating.

You can buy the powder online-- $210 gives you a six-month supply. The PR staff of the Endocrine Society tested a free sample on an apple mere minutes ago and report that it tastes pretty good. (None of them have lost weight in the last five minutes, however.)

If $210 is a bit rich for your blood, take Dr. Hirsch's alternate advice on how to use your senses for weight loss:

"Sniff your food before you eat. Chew it a lot."