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Can You Lose Weight by Enhancing Your Senses of Taste and Smell?

According to a 2009 survey by the National Center for Health Statistics two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese. This epidemic has far reaching health implications, and the medical community has been searching for ways to combat it.

Researchers with the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago claim they may have discovered an easy way for people to help control their weight. They presented their findings at the Endocrine Society's 90th annual meeting.

For the study, 2,436 overweight or obese participants were asked to flavor their food with calorie-free sweeteners and seasonings called "tastants" for 6 months.

The participants put salt-free "savory" tastants on salty foods and sugar-free sweet tastant crystals on sweet or neutral-tasting foods.

The participants did not know the hidden flavors of the tastants, they were only labeled "salty" or "sweet". The savory tastants were cheddar cheese, onion, horseradish, ranch dressing, taco or parmesan. Sweet flavors were cocoa, spearmint, banana, strawberry, raspberry and malt.

A control group consisting of 100 volunteers that took no tastants was also followed for 6 months.

By the end of the study, the participants using the tastants had an average weight loss of 30.5 pounds and the control group only saw an average weight loss of a mere 2 pounds.

The study did not look into the mechanisms behind the findings but the researchers theorize that the tastants made the participants feel full faster.

They also said that tastants probably made bland but healthy foods taste better, making people more likely to eat foods such as tofu and vegetables.

While the specific tastant crystals are not yet available commercially, the researchers note that these people can use the techniques of enhancing their senses of smell and taste to lose weight.

The key, say the researchers, is smelling your food before you eat it, chewing it a lot and using seasonings to make low-calorie foods more tasty.

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