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Scented products, including crystals you sprinkle on your food and products you inhale before eating, can trigger your body to think it's full, aiding weight loss, say companies who sell the products. Nutritionists and doctors who specialize in weight loss say the research conducted so far isn't convincing.

In theory, certain scents can help stimulate the 'satiety center,' or the part of your brain that tells you when you are full. The products generally include a variety of scents which people are supposed to alternate to avoid the body becoming accustomed to any one scent, which could cause it to lose its effectiveness.

SlimScents LLC of Marlton, N.J., sells a $50 set of three pen-shaped inhalers, which it says last four to six weeks before losing their scent. Glacier Point Solutions Inc., of Long Beach, Calif., sells an $18 package of three Happy Scent jars -- peppermint, banana and green apple -- which it says last a year. Both products are designed to be sniffed five minutes before eating.

Another method is crystals you sprinkle on your food before eating. A six-month 'starter kit' of Sensa crystals, from Intelligent Beauty LLC, of El Segundo, Calif., costs $289. The kit includes a new set of two types of crystals -- one for sweet and one for other food -- each month. On its website, Intelligent Beauty says the crystals, which it calls tastants, are designed to 'trigger your 'I feel full' signal.'

The idea that scent can help you lose weight is 'intriguing,' says Louis J. Aronne director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Program at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York. But the research done so far is 'not adequate' to show the currently marketed products work, he says.

Intelligent Beauty says participants lost an average 30.5 pounds over six months in a 1,436-person study conducted by Alan Hirsch, a scientist it describes as the 'founder' of its weight-loss system. However, Intelligent Beauty -- which puts Dr. Hirsch's photo on its Sensa packages -- declined to answer questions about the study or whether Dr. Hirsch is on staff at the company, whether he has an ownership stake or whether he receives financial compensation from sale of the product. Intelligent Beauty initially set up a phone interview with Dr. Hirsch and then cancelled it, citing an 'urgent matter.' Dr. Hirsch, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, didn't return a call seeking comment.

The study hasn't been published, Intelligent Beauty said. It was presented in June 2008 at the Endocrine Society's annual meeting in San Francisco, according to a spokesman for the society. The spokesman provided an abstract of the study, which said the research involved 2,437 overweight or obese subjects and 100 'nontreated controls.' It said 1,436 people completed the study.

Happy Scent hasn't been tested in a clinical trial, but there are 'anecdotal reports' from users that it works, said Donna Schilder, president of Glacier Point. SlimScents says it has two published studies showing its effectiveness, including one in 1995 by Dr. Hirsch. SlimScents President Mark Cohen says Dr. Hirsch developed the scents it uses and is a former business partner but the relationship dissolved due to 'business differences.'

The follow-up study, published in 1999 in the Journal of Advancement in Medicine and financed by SlimScents, found patients using the fruity-scented pens lost an average of 19.15 pounds, or 11.7% of body weight, over four months, compared with 3.85 pounds lost by patients using a placebo, detergent-scented pen.

Longer-term work is needed to see if patients maintain weight loss, says Lawrence Cheskin, director of Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, Baltimore. Adds Andrea Giancoli, a Los Angeles dietitian and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, 'whether it is successful or not, it's not teaching you how to make better choices.'

James O. Hill, co-founder of the National Weight Control Registry, a database of more than 6,000 people who have lost an average of 70 pounds and kept it off for six years, says there is no quick fix for people who successfully lose weight. Registrants exercise a lot and are 'conscious of every morsel they put in their mouths,' says Dr. Hill, who is executive director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado in Denver.


F. Martin Ramin for The Wall Street Journal
SlimScents LLC出售的吸入器


總部位于美國新澤西州馬爾頓(Marlton)的SlimScents LLC出售一種售價50美元的套裝產品,其中包括三只筆狀的據稱香味能持續四到六周的吸入器。加州長灘(Long Beach)的Glacier Point Solutions Inc.出售一種名曰Happy Scent的香氣罐套裝,三個罐子售價18美元,其中分別是薄荷油、香蕉和綠蘋果的氣味,其效力據稱能持續一年。兩種產品都需要在餐前吸5分鐘。

另一種聞香減肥的方式是在飯前將一種顆粒狀的產品灑在食物上。加州El Segundo的Intelligent Beauty LLC所出售的夠使用六個月的入門產品Sensa,售價289美元。此產品中包括兩種顆粒,一種用在甜食上,一種用于其他食品,每月一套。該公司在其網站上稱,這種被他們叫做甜味劑(tastants)的顆粒是用來“喚醒你‘我吃飽了’的感覺的”。

紐約-長老會醫院/康乃爾醫療中心(NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center)綜合體重控制項目(Comprehensive Weight Control Program)的負責人路易斯•艾洛尼(Louis Aronne)表示,用味道幫助減肥的想法很有趣,不過迄今為止所進行的研究都不足以證明當前市場上銷售的產品有效。

F. Martin Ramin for The Wall Street Journal
Intelligent Beauty出售的入門產品Sensa小顆粒

據Intelligent Beauty稱,一位被該公司稱作這套減肥理論的“創始人”、名叫艾倫•赫希(Alan Hirsch)的科學家進行了一項有1,436名志愿者參與的試驗,試驗結果顯示,參與者六個月的時間里平均減重30.5磅。不過,在記者提出有關這項試驗、以及這位照片被印在公司產品Sensa包裝上的赫希博士是否是該公司成員、是否持有該公司股權或是從產品銷售中獲得回報等問題時,這家公司表示拒絕回答。Intelligent Beauty起初安排了一次同赫希的電話采訪,之后又以“緊急事項”為由將采訪取消了。芝加哥拉什大學醫學中心(Rush University Medical Center)的助理教授赫希沒有回復記者的問詢電話。

Intelligent Beauty表示,這項研究尚未發表。據內分泌學會(Endocrine Society)的一位發言人稱,該研究于2008年6月在該學會在舊金山召開的年會上公布過。根據這位發言人提供的一份摘要,參與此次試驗的包括2,437位肥胖或超重志愿者,以及100位比較對象。最終1,436人完成了試驗。

F. Martin Ramin for The Wall Street Journal
Happy Scent

Glacier Point的總裁堂娜•希爾德(Donna Schilder)稱,該公司產品Happy Scent尚未進行臨床試驗,不過偶有來自用戶的非正式報告顯示其產品有效。SlimScents表示有兩項已經發表的研究成果能夠證明其產品有效,其中一份是赫希博士在1995年發表的。據SlimScents總裁馬克•科恩(Mark Cohen)稱,赫希博士是他們產品中所使用香料的開發者,之前還是公司的一位合伙人,不過他們之間的合作因“業務方面的分歧”而結束了。

1999年發表在《Journal of Advancement in Medicine》上的一項后續研究顯示,患者在使用水果香味的筆狀吸入器四個月后,平均減重19.15磅,相當于體重的11.7%;而使用安慰劑、即一種清潔劑香味吸入器的患者體重僅下降了3.85磅。此項研究由SlimScents出資贊助。

位于巴爾的摩的約翰•霍普金斯體重管理中心(Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center)主任勞倫斯•切斯金(Lawrence Cheskin)稱,患者能否長期維持減肥效果尚需要研究。洛杉磯的營養學家、美國營養學會發言人安德里亞•詹克列(Andrea Giancoli)則表示,無論這種減肥方式是否奏效,它都沒有引導你學會去做出更好的選擇。

美國全國體重控制登記處(National Weight Control Registry)的聯合發起人詹姆斯•希爾(James O. Hill)表示,對于那些成功減肥的人來說,沒有捷徑可走。這家機構的數據庫中登記了6千多名平均減重70磅且保持了六年的減肥成功者。這些成員做很多運動而且對他們放進嘴里的每一口食物都很心知肚明。希爾還是科羅拉多大學丹佛分校(University of Colorado in Denver)安秀茲健康中心(Anschutz Health and Wellness Center)的執行主任。


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