Boosting the flavor of food may aid in weight loss

Jun 17, 2008

People who are overweight may be able to shed pounds by sprinkling special seasonings and sweeteners on the food they eat. These "tastants" stimulate the sense of smell and taste, making people feel fuller faster and helping them to eat less, a study found.

"This approach uses natural physiology to help people lose weight, which is different than other approaches," Dr. Alan Hirsch explained. "We know that diets don't work because people do not have the will power to succeed. Instead of looking at the front end - how people eat - we looked at the back end, how can people feel full faster?"

As founder and neurologic director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, Hirsch observed that after people lost their sense of smell and taste from head trauma, they would gain 10 or 20 pounds.

This led him to test whether heightening the sense of smell and taste would help people lose weight. "It makes anatomic sense because there is a direct relation between the olfactory bulb at the top of the nose and the brain's satiety (fullness) center," Hirsh explained at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting underway in San Francisco.