I just recently came upon a new type of diet that really just left me shaking my head. As anyone who has read my posts know, I’m not a supporter of any type of fad diet whatsoever. This latest one is definitely more interesting though.
It’s called Sensa. It was developed by one Dr. Alan Hirsch. He has done research to show that certain smells can stall the amount of calories one would normally eat, thus feeling full sooner and creating a caloric deficit. He did some research on this back in the 1990’s.
His study showed that by using inhalers with different scents, people who had good “olfactory ability”, using tests, lost on average 4.7 lbs per month. None of the participants were told to change eating or exercise habits during the study. Other things that correlated with weight loss were eating fewer chocolate bars, not avoiding others and not feeling bad about oneself. (1) There was no mention if subjects increased exercise over the period of 6 months during the study or really changed any other habits. We only have the info presented. Not a great start.
The next study is one that accompanies the Sensa website. The link is here: http://www.trysensa.com/media/pdf/Abstract_Poster_Use_of_Stimuli_for_Weight_Loss.pdf
This study appears to be even more sloppy than the last one mentioned. They compared 1436 people on the Sensa product to 100 control subjects. That’s 14x as many people using the product than placebo. Not surprising, the control group only lost on average 2 pounds while the study group lost on average 30lbs. Again there was no mention of dietary practices nor lifestyle changes that may have occurred. Sketchy.
There was a so called 3rd party study done which looks a tiny bit better at randomization, but again the reporting is as good as what I would come to expect from a junior high student. Again results showed 27 lbs reductions for treatment group and .34 lb increase in the control. There is no mention who actually conducted the study. It can be found here:
Another problem I have with the studies is a lack of follow up. What happened with all those people who lost weight 6-12 months later? Is this a product that must be continued to show benefit? Is there a safety problem with it long term? I don’t know the answers to these questions. Even assuming all the results are 100% true, there is no guarantee that the weight will stay off if the product is discontinued. Especially since the studies state that the subjects were told not to change lifestyle habits. If I’m sedentary and eat crap and start using this product and begin eating less crap that is in theory a good thing. Problem is that I didn’t change anything other than my caloric intake. I’m still eating crap and not exercising or just plain being active. So my guess is once I stop sprinkling crystals on my food I’m going to have more to eat and if I’m eating crap, what does it matter?
I’m not railing on weight loss per se. On the contrary if a person is carrying around too much fat, that can be a cause of concern for increase risk of a variety of health problems. I think losing weight shouldn’t be as important as changing body composition. If I lose 10lbs and 5 of it is muscle, that’s not good. Likewise if I gain 5 lbs and all of it is muscle, I’m not complaining one bit. It comes back to balance. Be active and make sensible food choices regularly and you will be much happier in the long run with your appearance and self-esteem than on some fad diet that doesn’t change how or what you are.
1. Hirsch, A.R. and Gomez, R., Weight Reduction through Inhalation of Odorants, The Journal of Neurological and Orthopedic Medicine and Surgery, Vol. 16, No. 1, 1995.
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