Tricking your brain into losing weight by substituting smells - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Tricking your brain into losing weight by substituting smells

(National) April 23, 2004 - Regis Banks is on a crusade to lose weight, "I lost in between 15 and 20 pounds in the last three months." And, he did it without dieting.

Dr. Alan Hirsch, the neurological director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation , says Banks lost weight "by sprinkling different flavors onto food."

Banks is part of an ongoing study conducted by Dr. Hirsch. Participants are given sweet and salty sprinkles to put on their food each month. He says the sprinkles smell like "cheddar cheese, pizza, horse radish, raspberry, mocha."

The doctors says the brain is tricked into thinking it's eating what's on the plate and the food that the sprinkles smell like, because nerve cells in the nose sense smells, triggering patterns of electrical activity in the brain that can affect appetite, "You perceive you've eaten more than you have, and thus you feel full faster, and you eat less and lose weight."

And, even though the sprinkles change the smell, they do not actually change the taste. A preliminary study shows some promising results, "One hundred eight people over six months time lost a average of 34.7 pounds by sprinkling different flavors onto their food." That's nearly 35 pounds each.

While he thinks the study is promising, bariatric specialist Dr. Atul Madon of the University of Tennessee-Memphis, says he would like some more long term information, "What happens in five years? Once they stop the sprinkles, do they gain the weight back?"

Dr. Hirsch is looking for participants for a second, even larger Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation study with thousands of participants across the country to try to answer these questions.

by Scott Hawkins

posted 2:44pm by Chris Rees

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